Mixed views on im­mi­gra­tion

Bill good for work­place, but doesn’t ad­dress health­care

Modern Healthcare - - LATE NEWS - Jessica Zig­mond

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.

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