The National Foundation for American Policy (“NFAP”) has issued a report entitled “U.S. Government, Heal Thyself: Immigration Restrictions and Americas Growing Health Care Needs.” The report notes that U.S. immigration laws place significant barriers and other restrictions on the admission of doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and other health care professionals even though there are apparent shortages in these occupations. Experts predict that these shortages will grow due to the aging population and the increased access that Americans will have to medical services under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”).
The NFAP report reviews the limited immigration options available to foreign doctors, nurses, therapists, and other health care professionals and concludes that they will not be sufficient to meet the growing demands for the delivery of medical services. The report suggests that the physician shortage will approach 63,000 in 2015, and that amount will more than double by 2025. The report also notes that the national deficit of registered nurses will exceed 900,000 by 2030. At the same time, the report observes that the United States will not be able to train anywhere near the number of Americans necessary to fill these positions, placing increasing pressure on the nation’s ability to attract qualified FNs. Toward this objective, the NFAP report recommends that comprehensive immigration reform include provisions specifically designed to address the shortage of health care professionals.