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Geriatrics Field Needs Major Influx of Health Professionals

Jul 9, 2013

Waxahachie, TX (Law Firm Newswire) July 8, 2013 – A number of recent health care reforms are pushing health policy advisors to rethink how to meet the growing need for elder health care professionals.

Panelists at a senior health care forum in Manhattan recently expressed concern about the future of elder care in the U.S. The symposium, hosted by Jewish Home Life Care and the Himan Brown Charitable Trust, included the health policy professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Dr. John Wallis Rowe, who stated that the number of heath care workers specializing in geriatrics was so small, it was “an embarrassment.”

“Health care professionals are reluctant to enter geriatric care because of the constant changes in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Reimbursement rates to providers are consistently threatened and coverage is often in question as CMS steps up pressure on hospitals by second-guessing whether patients should be given inpatient status,” stated Dallas elder law attorney John Hale.

Other panelists agreed that health care professionals are entering the field of geriatrics in smaller numbers than ever before, an unfortunate trend as the U.S. population continues to age. The first wave of the country’s “baby boom” generation turns 67 in 2013, and more than 70 million more people will be in their late 60s and 70s during the next ten years.

The reluctance of many health care professionals to enter the geriatric care field may in large part be due to the common view that geriatric care is simply end-of-life care for frail patients. This bias is generally disputed by many in the field, who state that there are numerous complexities and strategies involved in providing good, comprehensive care. Others state that they believe the field is less of a draw after medical school, as geriatric typically pays less than other specialties.

But, said Rowe, the health care system can still be bolstered by a healthy and robust number of elder care professionals and in-home quality-of-life systems in time to meet the growing needs of the aging population. Hospitals will not be adequately outfitted to care for the myriad needs of so many elderly patients, but basic life care and minor medical issues can be managed in a home care setting with medical aides and support. But, in order for that to happen, elder care advocates say, more focus needs to be placed on elder care in nursing schools and medical programs.

Rose told the audience that the U.S. currently has a shortage of at least 45,000 primary care providers, while the country will soon need to insure an additional 20 million people. The lack of enough doctors and the growing number of patients in need will only continue to increase the care gap.

John Hale is a Dallas elder law attorney and Dallas estate planning lawyer with The Hale Law Firm. To learn more visit http://www.thehalelawfirm.com.

The Hale Law Firm
100 Executive Court, Suite 3
Waxahachie, TX 75165
Call: 888.425.3911

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