The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety held a Sept. 14 hearing, titled “Flatlining Care: Why Immigrants Are Crucial to Bolstering Our Health Care Workforce.” The AAMC submitted a statement for the record regarding the importance of physician immigration, mirroring testimony of AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, at a House judiciary subcommittee hearing in February [refer to Washington Highlights, Feb. 18].
In his opening, Subcommittee Chair Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) stated, “The Association of American Medical Colleges projects the U.S. is facing a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by the year 2034; that means a shortage of up to 40,000 primary care physicians and more than 77,000 non-primary care physicians” — data echoed by several members and witnesses throughout the hearing.
Much of the hearing and the AAMC’s statement focused on legislation to improve physician immigration, including:
- The bipartisan Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3541, S. 1810), which among other improvements would allow the program to expand beyond 30 slots per state if certain nationwide thresholds are met.
- A permanent pathway to citizenship for individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, such as the bipartisan Dream Act of 2021 (S. 264) or the House-passed American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (H.R. 6).
- The bipartisan Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (H.R. 2255, S. 1024) to reduce green card backlogs and prioritize health care workers.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also noted that “in the American Rescue Plan … we put a billion dollars into scholarships and loan forgiveness for the National Health Service Corps. The National Health Service Corps focuses on underserved areas; these are physicians we hope will be attracted to those areas, but we need to expand the graduation rates of our medical professionals — the boomers insist on it.”
Republican members of the committee focused on the need for border security measures in order to move a comprehensive immigration reform package forward.