The AAMC, joined by 30 organizations representing a range of health professional education and practice groups, filed a Sept. 18 amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to maintain lower court injunctions against implementation of the March 2017 Executive Order barring entry of individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen [see Washington Highlights, March 10]. An amicus brief is often filed to provide additional information about a case by “friends of the court” who are not party to the suit. Because the contributions of health professionals and scientists from other countries are critical to health care and biomedical research in the United States, the brief argues, the Executive Order jeopardizes patient care, medical discoveries, and public health.
The amicus brief explains that teaching hospitals, which have a special role in ensuring our nation’s health security, rely heavily on physicians and scientists from other countries in caring for vulnerable populations, responding to attacks of violence such as the Boston Marathon bombing, containing infectious diseases like Ebola, and helping communities recover from disasters including, most recently, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Congress has created multiple pathways for highly-skilled and carefully-screened health professionals from other countries to provide care and undertake research to benefit the United States. As one example, since 1994, the Conrad 30 waiver program has enabled more than 15,000 non-U.S. physicians to provide care in medically-underserved communities. Sudden changes in the handling of visa applications and widespread backlogs also present a significant risk to the annual Match, and to the ability of highly-skilled and rigorously-vetted physicians from other countries to provide care in communities experiencing physician shortages. The brief also describes how ill-considered exclusions will also constrain medical and scientific collaboration, to our country’s detriment.
Oral argument is scheduled for Oct. 10.