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St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking Discusses Need for Expanding Health Care Visas

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With America’s Healthcare system under scrutiny and on the verge of changing, doctors, nurses, and all medical practitioners will be affected. An aging population paired with the demands of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has increased the need for specialists in a variety of medical fields. This presents the U.S. with an opportunity to be able to use the global talent in health care that is available, but the current restrictions are not allowing a sufficient number of foreign born doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel to work in the U.S.

According to the National Foundation for American Policy, there are four simple policies that can fix the problem we currently have.

  • First, the government should expand the number of employment-based green cards to decrease the wait times for skilled immigrants. The average application process can be cut to as low as a few weeks or months rather than years.
  • Second, the government should consider establishing a temporary visa system that caters to foreign nurses. The vast majority of foreign nurses are not eligible for the current temporary visas making it more difficult for them to practice in the U.S.
  • Third, the so-called Conrad 30 program should expand the amount of physicians per state and in the country. This way, more of the U.S. trained doctors are able to pursue a specialization in their field and therefore the U.S. will have more physicians helping underprivileged patients.
  • Finally, state licensing and other procedures for foreign medical personnel should be streamlined to help with the nation’s long term health needs.

These are four simple ways that policies can help immigrants come to the U.S. and use their medical skills to help treat our patients. There is a shortage of doctors currently that will last a few years. While critics argue that a shortage is only temporary, more doctors, whether they are immigrants or natives, can only help improve the efficiency of the healthcare system. This will result in shorter waits for patients, more options for doctors, and more efficiency in hospitals.

The entire country will be subject to this shortage of medical personnel including Missouri, so favorable immigration policies can only aid in making this process faster. “Analysts agree that individuals with health insurance are more likely to use medical services and the Congressional Budget Office estimates the Affordable Care Act could insure 30 million people who previously lacked health coverage.” Statistics already show that children wait over an average of 15 weeks for specialized care. By opening up this country to skilled immigrants, we can help improve a healthcare system that is in much need of repair.

If you have questions about acquiring an employment based visa in the medical field, contact us at 314-961-8200.

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