AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, testified at a Feb. 15 hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship titled “Is There a Doctor in the House? The Role of Immigrant Physicians in the U.S. Healthcare System.” The hearing simultaneously focused on the role of physicians from other countries in addressing U.S. shortages (particularly in rural and underserved communities), the ability of medical school graduates to secure medical residency positions, and broader immigration concerns.
In his opening statement, Skorton stated, “Simply put, we need more doctors from everywhere.” He continued, “Residency program directors seek the best candidates, regardless of citizenship status or national origin, through a highly competitive selection process,” and “I can confidently say that physicians from other countries are not displacing graduates of U.S. medical schools.”
Skorton offered to work with the subcommittee on ways to help ensure the physician immigration process is predictable, expedient, efficient, and better aligned with the continuum of medical education, training, and state licensure. He also urged Congress to enact legislation to enhance 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 DACA 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.
Other witnesses included Kristen Harris, principal at Harris Immigration Law; Raghuveer Kura, MD, an interventional nephrologist at Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center; and Kevin Lynn, co-founder of Doctors Without Jobs.