WASHINGTON—A bipartisan quartet of US senators said Thursday, April 30, they would introduce an emergency healthcare stopgap proposal to recapture previously unused visas for qualified international nurses and doctors to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
The bill, which will be formally introduced when the Senate reconvenes, is being led by Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Dick Durbin (R-IL), Todd Young (R-IN), and Chris Coons (D-DE).
“Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the United States was projected to suffer a shortfall of 200,000 nurses. Now, with healthcare workers representing as much as 20 percent of all new infections across the country, clinician staffing has become a public health crisis of its own,” Shari Costantini, the president of the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment, said. “This is a thoughtful, targeted solution that puts America on a war footing with the coronavirus by ensuring our hospitals have the front line clinicians we need to treat historic levels of critical care patients at hospitals all across the country.”
Today there thousands of qualified overseas nurses who have passed background checks and US licensure and English language proficiency tests but cannot get their visas processed by the State Department because of a green card freeze.
The Healthcare Workforce Resiliency Act would allow for the entry of 25,000 international nurses and 15,000 doctors, drawn from a massive pool of previously authorized but unused visas. All clinicians would be required to pass licensure and English language exams, have a spotless overseas record, and have graduated from an equivalent international medical program.
The state of America’s nursing crisis is so severe—even before the coronavirus pandemic, some 200,000 nursing positions were projected to go unfilled this year—that the US Department of Labor has said that the immigration of international healthcare workers would have no effect on the wages and working conditions of domestic labor.
Health Carousel CEO Bill DeVille issued the following statement on the proposed bill:
“The nursing shortage in the United States continues and is particularly felt during this time of crisis. As a founding member of the AAIHR, we continue to work tirelessly to make sure that every patient in the United States has access to the care they need, when and where they need it. Our PassportUSA brand sets the standard for international healthcare recruiting by delivering highly-qualified international nurses who are ready and willing to come to the US to provide much needed patient care. Through our work with the association, and directly with our clients and healthcare professionals, we are committed to improving lives and making healthcare work better.”
For more information on the American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment, please visit https://aaihr.org/about/.