us-trump-travel-ban-20170130 Could Trump’s Immigration Ban Affect Healthcare?

Refugees who fled to America from unsafe countries may not be the only ones at risk as a result of Trump’s immigration ban.  Americans who are already living here could be negatively affected too.

The travel ban is intended to be temporary, in place for 90 days. However, Trump has pledged to institute “extreme vetting” to have greater jurisdiction over immigration from those nations after the ban is lifted. Additionally, he has proposed major changes to the H-1B visa program that allows hospitals bring in so many foreign workers.

While Trump is confident that this ban is what’s best for the country, he may have skipped over an important detail: it’s effect on health care. Last week, the American Medical Association issued a letter to John F. Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security, pinpointing a vital effect of the immigration ban: A quarter of physicians currently practicing in the U.S. were granted visas.

Approximately ten thousand Iranian doctors and 5,000 Syrian doctors currently practice in the U.S. Of the seven banned countries, 260 people have applied for residencies. An estimated 800,000 patients would be able to receive care based off of those 260 applicants alone.

According to the AAMC, there’s already a threatening shortage of physicians in the U.S.— by 2025 it’s expected to reach 94,700.

“The AMA is concerned that this executive order is negatively impacting patient access to care and creating unintended consequences for our nation’s healthcare system,” wrote AMA executive vice president and CEO, James L. Madara, MD, in the letter. “Specifically, there are reports indicating that this executive order is affecting both current and future physicians as well as medical students and residents who are providing much needed care to some of our most vulnerable patients.”

He also suggests that this ban will pose a threat to those in need of healthcare in low income areas. Madara later stated that often, visa-holding physicians come to the states to serve in rural, low-income areas that find it hard to attract qualified physicians.