Nurses on The Frontlines: Linda McIntosh

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Linda McIntosh
Linda McIntosh
Family Nurse Practitioner
Des Arc, Arkansas

Linda works at a family practice and urgent care center in a rural area, 45 minutes from the nearest hospital. More than half her patients have no health insurance or have Medicaid or Medicare.

Linda McIntosh, In Her Own Words:

I have patients every day who must decide whether to purchase medications or eat. One Medicare patient was dismissed from the hospital with pneumonia. The cost of the antibiotic was $864 for 10 pills – the patient’s monthly Social Security check couldn’t cover it. I have Medicare patients who fall in the donut hole mid-year [a gap in prescription coverage when patients are responsible for full drug payments] due to multiple chronic illnesses and can’t afford their medicines the rest of the year.

I attempt to refer patients daily to specialists, but often the next available appointment is in three to six months. I have uninsured patients that are told that if they can’t pay $250 out-of-pocket, they can’t visit a specialty physician. I know specialty physicians who refuse to see Medicare and Medicaid patients anymore because of poor reimbursement.

I have patients who have private insurance with high premiums and high deductibles. Our county employees’ health insurance policy deductible is $3,500 per year. I’ve seen insurance policies that limit the number of covered prescriptions to two per month; charge co-pays that are higher for a nurse practitioner than for a physician; and refuse to cover treatment for a joint injury because tendonitis was indicated as a pre-existing condition.

I am depending on Congress to work out a solution to the health care crisis by improving access and choice to quality health care, utilizing each profession to its fullest scope of practice to meet primary health care needs, reducing health care disparities, and serving the underserved in urban and rural areas.