Mixed views on immigration
Bill good for workplace, but doesn’t address healthcare
In the hours after the Senate mustered a 68-32 vote to pass an immigration reform bill, healthcare providers applauded the healthcare workforce provisions but also criticized lawmakers for declining to address healthcare coverage for immigrants.
“The bill has really positive provisions that we think are going to help the healthcare workforce shortage issues for physicians but also for nurses and other allied health,” such as physical therapists and occupational therapists, said Samantha Burch, vice president of legislation and health information technology at the Federation of American Hospitals.
The federation praised a number of expanded programs that would boost the number of visas and visa waivers available to healthcare providers.
Other groups, though, focused on what the legislation did not include.
“As children’s health experts and advocates, we remain concerned that the legislation does little to address the multiple barriers to accessing comprehensive, affordable, and culturally and linguistically effective healthcare services faced by many children in immigrant communities,” Dr. Thomas McInerny, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
And the trade group representing safety net hospitals—now called America’s Essential Hospitals, formerly the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems—expressed concern that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act won’t reach the 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. This patient population currently relies on a hodgepodge of funding sources that in most cases pays for only limited services, the group said.
All eyes now shift to the lower chamber, where many believe any immigration bill resembling the Senate’s faces long odds. The House Judiciary Committee passed a few immigration bills last week, including one that Burch said includes all of the Senate bill’s physician provisions.