Ruling expected soon on immigration ban with implications for healthcare

An appeals court is expected to rule soon on President Trump's immigration order with implications for the healthcare industry.

An appeals court is expected to rule soon on whether to restore President Donald Trump’s immigration ban that creates travel restrictions with wide implications for foreign-born doctors, medical students and patients who seek care in the United States.

On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges questioned lawyers from both the Department of Justice and Washington state over a moratorium on the immigration ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries. They took the case under submission, according to news reports.

RELATED: Cleveland Clinic’s resident doc returns to U.S. after immigration ban

The three judges voiced deep skepticism about the ban, an indication they are not inclined to reinstate it, news reports indicated. But no matter how the appeals court rules, an appeal to the Supreme Court is likely, and since the court remains short-handed it could deadlock and a tie 4-4 vote would leave the appeals court’s ruling in place, according to The New York Times.

Trump issued an executive order Jan. 27 that suspended entry for people from seven countries for 90 days. The ban, issued without warning, disrupted travel, drew protests, and created worries about the impact on the U.S. healthcare industry, which relies heavily on foreign-born doctors who practice medicine here.

Here’s a rundown on the latest news related to the ban:

  • A group of 12 physician organizations called for the ban to be rescinded, but if that does not prevail, the government should take steps to ease travel restrictions that impact medical education and access to healthcare services. The groups sent a letter (PDF) to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly that said the order will “undermine medical education and result in patients losing access to their doctors.”
  • The American Medical Association sent a letter (PDF) in support of a bipartisan bill that would provide protection from deportation for undocumented young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status. The AMA said more than 60 medical schools are considering applications from students with this status for the upcoming year. The bill would allow them to apply for protected legal status and work authorization for three years. The ban has also created fears about the impact on international medical students vying for training programs at U.S. hospitals, as well as young doctors in training already working here.
  • A Cleveland Clinic doctor, forced to leave because of the travel ban, secretly flew back to the U.S. yesterday in what was described as a clandestine mission. An Iranian baby in need of lifesaving heart surgery also arrived yesterday at a Portland, Oregon, hospital with her family after being temporarily banned from coming to the U.S. by the immigration order.
  • In Massachusetts, some healthcare workers say the uncertainty created by the ban is directly affecting their immigrant patients, who aren’t coming to their medical appointments because they are afraid, according to CommonHealth.