The TaxWatch Research Blog

The TaxWatch Research Blog is a forum where our research staff can address topics and issues in a short format. Keep an eye on this space during Legislative Session for frequent posts making sense of the activity at the Capitol. 

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Addressing Florida's Escalating Physician Shortage: Strategies and Solutions

"Physician Shortage in Florida: Challenges and Solutions" examines the critical issue of Florida's physician shortage against the backdrop of its rapidly growing population. Florida faces a severe challenge in its healthcare system due to the increasing demand for medical services, primarily driven by an aging population, and a concurrent decline in the supply of physicians, especially noticeable in rural areas. The paper highlights several currently pressing issues: the current supply of family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatric physicians in Florida meets only 62%, 65%, and 76% of the demand, respectively. By 2030, an additional 22,000 physicians will be required to bridge this gap. The shortage is particularly acute in rural counties, which have seen a significant decrease in physician numbers over the past decade.

The paper also discusses several potential solutions to this crisis. One key strategy is increasing Graduate Medical Education (GME) opportunities, as Florida has a high retention rate of medical residents who stay in the state. Telehealth is identified as a promising tool to improve patient access, especially in remote areas, but it faces technological and infrastructural barriers. The role of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) is emphasized as a means to alleviate some of the demand for physicians, with the suggestion to expand their scope of practice. The paper also suggests that participating in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact could help streamline the process of licensing out-of-state physicians. However, Florida's high medical malpractice insurance costs and a large uninsured population pose additional challenges in attracting physicians.

The paper concludes with several recommendations, including updating the Florida Health Physician Workforce Survey to include retention-focused questions, increasing GME slots, incentivizing the integration of telehealth in primary care, expanding the scope of practice for APRNs, and reviewing the medical legal landscape to focus on reducing insurance premiums. The authors assert that addressing the physician shortage in Florida requires a multifaceted approach that adapts to the evolving healthcare landscape to ensure the efficient delivery of medical services.

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