President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration could have major consequences on the American healthcare system, especially for foreign-born doctors, other healthcare workers and patients who seek care here from foreign countries.
Numerous medical organizations have criticized Trump’s executive order halting immigration from seven countries and have spoken out on its potentially negative effect on healthcare, according to Medpage Today.
A major fear is that the order could impact healthcare providers from other countries who are working or studying in the U.S. The American healthcare system relies heavily on foreign-born workers, many of them from the Middle East, according to STAT. As many as 25% of physicians practicing in the U.S. were born in another country and rural clinics and public safety-net hospitals rely on foreign medical school graduates, the report said.
And it’s not just physicians who work in the U.S., but occupational and physical therapists, dentists, pharmacists and other health professionals.
Some of the country’s leading medical centers, including Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic, have identified more than 30 patients from countries subject to the immigration order who are scheduled to travel to the U.S. to receive medical care in the next 90 days, according to a separate STAT report.
“Guidance is urgently needed from the administration to clarify that this order will not impact patient care or prevent travelers’ access to timely medical treatment,” Andrew Gurman, president of the American Medical Association, told Morning Consult.
In Cleveland, area hospitals were scrambling to assist and reassure anxious medical staff without U.S. citizenship, as well as foreign patients scheduled for treatment, according to Cleveland.com. The immigration order had a direct impact on one doctor, as a Cleveland Clinic internal medicine resident was detained and forced to return to Saudi Arabia because her visa was issued in Sudan, one of the countries on Trump’s list.
There are also fears that the travel ban could disrupt training programs at hospitals and medical schools.
We are deeply concerned that EO will disrupt edu/research & have damaging long-term impact on patients/health care. https://t.co/sdD8enMpjb— AAMC (@AAMCtoday) January 30, 2017
The order, which Trump said was necessary for national security, has been met with immediate protests and lawsuits.
Among the healthcare organizations raising concerns about the impact on the industry were the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Medical Student Association, the American College of Physicians and the American Hospital Association.