GAO Appoints Flores to New National Health Care Workforce Commission

Katherine Flores

Gene Dodaro, acting comptroller general of the United States and head of the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), recently announced the appointment of 15 members to the new National Health Care Workforce Commission.

Among the new commissioners is Katherine A. Flores, MD, a family physician and director of the UCSF Fresno Latino Center for Medical Education and Research.

These “appointees bring impressive expertise and professional credentials to their role of advising policymakers on ways to improve the health care workforce which is so essential to ensuring the health and safety of the American people,” Dodaro said.

The US GAO, known as the investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities. GAO also works to improve the performance of the federal government and ensure its accountability to the American people.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a federal statute that was signed into law in the United States by President Barack Obama on March 23, created the commission to:

  • serve as a national resource for Congress, the President, and states and localities;

  • communicate and coordinate with federal departments;

  • develop and commission evaluations of education and training activities;

  • identify barriers to improved coordination at the federal, state, and local levels and recommend ways to address them; and

  • encourage innovations that address population needs, changing technology, and other environmental factors.

The law includes numerous health-related provisions to take effect over a four-year period, including expanding Medicaid eligibility, subsidizing insurance premiums, providing incentives for businesses to provide health care benefits, prohibiting denial of coverage/claims based on pre-existing conditions, establishing health insurance exchanges, and support for medical research.

The act requires the comptroller general to appoint the commission members and the members are required to be appointed for three-year terms, but staggered terms are mandated for the first 15 members appointed in September 2010. Those first set of appointments are set at one, two, or three years. Flores’ term will expire in September 2011.

About Katherine Flores

Flores is a practicing family physician in Fresno and has extensive experience in the arena of health professions diversity and health professions pipeline development. She is assistant clinical professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UCSF Fresno.

She is chair of the California Health Professions Consortium and serves on the Governor’s Healthcare Workforce Diversity Council.  Flores also directs multiple large institutional medical education programs, including the California Border Health Education and Training Center program, the Health Opportunities Program and the Hispanic Centers of Excellence. She enjoys a statewide reputation for leadership in education of Latino health professionals.

A bilingual/bicultural valley native from a migrant farm worker family, she has firsthand experience with the obstacles that disadvantaged students face, particularly in the Central San Joaquin Valley.

Flores received a BA from Stanford University. After earning her medical degree at UC Davis, Flores returned home to Fresno with a dream to help disadvantaged youths in her community. She started the Doctors Academy at Sunnyside High School, a rigorous academic program for students interested in the fields of health and medicine. Since the first class graduated in 2003, 100 percent of those enrolled have been accepted into four-year universities, and last year, the first Doctors Academy alumna entered medical school.

In 2008, Flores received the Maybelline New York Beauty of Education Award, which recognizes women who motivate, mentor and make a difference in their communities through the power of education. She also was recognized at UCSF in the 2009 with the UCSF Martin Luther King Jr. Award for her efforts to promote diversity at UCSF.

Related Links:

US Government Accountability Office’s National Health Care Workforce Commission

UCSF Fresno

Flores Wins Maybelline New York Beauty of Education Award
UCSF Today, December 25, 2008