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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Nurse Practitioners and Primary Care: Medicare Beneficiaries in Anchorage and Mat-Su

Status Current
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 11/01/2010
End Date 06/30/2011
Funding Source ISER Policy Research Award
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 03/21/2011 02:20AM
Keywords medicare, primary care, nursing

People

Faculty
  Rosyland Frazier

Student Researchers
  Erica Mitchell

Abstract

Growth in senior populations, coupled with reports of increasing numbers of physicians who either opt out of Medicare or see only established Medicare patients, may lead to a shortage of primary-care services for this group. Our 2008 survey of general primary-care doctors in Alaska found that overall about 56%—128 of 229—were willing to take new Medicare patients. But in Anchorage, where close to 40% of all Alaskans over 65 live, the share willing to see new Medicare patients was much smaller.

Given the problems Medicare beneficiaries in Alaska and Anchorage in particular face getting primary care doctors we wondered where older Anchorage residents are getting primary care. We believe that independent nurse practitioners are taking on an increased share of primary care for Anchorage’s residents 65 and older. When ISER published the results of its 2008 survey of primary-care doctors, several nurse practitioners contacted us, to say that a number of them do accept new Medicare patients. In 2009 there were 483 licensed and practicing nurse practitioners in Alaska, with 245 of those in Anchorage. Nurse practitioners in Alaska have among the broadest authority in the country to treat patients and prescribe medicine.

To learn more about nurse practitioners and Medicare access, we surveyed nurse practitioners in Anchorage and Mat-Su. Our goals are: (1) to gather information about the work settings of these nurse practitioners and how many own their own practices; (2) to measure their acceptance of Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and other beneficiaries; and (3) to gain more insight into reasons they may decline or accept new Medicare Medicaid, Tricare, and other patients. We conducted a mail survey with telephone follow-up, supplemented with a review of relevant literature and key informant interviews.

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