Future of Health Care Not Bright for Elderly Patients in the Sunshine State

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July 5, 2006 — Physicians who routinely treat the elderly in Rural Florida are reducing or eliminating some of the services they provide. These cut backs are affecting access to care for the elderly in a state which has the highest proportion of elderly residents.

This research, funded in part by Florida’s Office of Rural Health, found that 54.9% of physicians surveyed have eliminated services in the past year. Those with a high volume of Medicare patients were even more likely to cut back on services such as mental health services, vaccines and pap smears.

Results point to the medical malpractice crisis, decreasing Medicare reimbursements and general dissatisfaction with their practice as the reasons for decreasing services offered to this already vulnerable group.

The study’s lead researcher Anne Gunderson, GNP, CRRN-A says ” practice dissatisfaction is related to decreased quality of care, riskier prescribing practices, and an increased likelihood to leave practice or relocate,” suggesting further researching and monitoring is necessary.

This study is published in the Journal of Rural Health.

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