Democrats’ Coronavirus Bill Imports More Foreign Doctors, Nurses

In this April 2, 2020, file photo, a health inspection officer shows doctors how to use protective equipment before they head to a ward at Mbagathi hospital for patients under quarantine with confirmed cases of the coronavirus, at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. A global “brain drain” of medical …
AP Photo/Brian Inganga

The House Democrats’ next coronavirus bill will help centralize the nation’s healthcare system by giving hospital chains more power to import many more doctors from overseas, say critics.

The wider pipeline of migrants would help healthcare companies expand their marketplace reach, but it would also sideline many U.S. healthcare professionals and many Americans who want to become doctors, said Kevin Lynn, the founder of Doctors without Jobs and U.S. Tech Workers.

“What we don’t see in this bill is an investment in our people,” he said. “We’re going to make it easier for foreign healthcare workers to come here and work under the umbrella of fighting ‘COVD-19.'”

That is bad news for many thousands of Americans who have passed medical tests but have been denied a slot in the limited number of gateway residency jobs at hospitals, he said. Congress should help Americans help each other by providing more funds to train Americans to become doctors and nurses, he said.

More training of Americans would also reduce the corporate extraction of doctors and nurses from poor countries, such as India, Nigeria, and Sudan, he said. “If you are a doctor from Sudan, would the value-added of remaining in Sudan be greater than adding one more doctor in the United States?”

The Democrats’ bill is dubbed the HEROES Act, and it:

provides fast-track green cards for immigrant doctors who have coronavirus patients, and creates a new block of 12,000 green cards for foreign doctors plus their families.

gives fast-track work permits for foreign medical professionals, including doctors and nurses who work with victims of China’s coronavirus.

grants work permits for foreign nurses, doctors, and scientists who are working on coronavirus care and treatments.

requires the Department of Homeland Security to accept state medical-licensing rules, so helping companies import more foreign medical professionals via the least-demanding state.

allows foreign doctors in the U.S. on H-1B work visas to treat patients via telemedicine. This would help hospital chains to treat Americans with long-distance foreign doctors instead of with face-to-face interactions with American doctors.

The legislation also provides work permits for a huge number of illegal migrants who have jobs in the very broad category of “essential critical infrastructure.” That category includes janitors and food workers in hospitals, as well as stoop labor in agriculture.

The demand for foreign medical workers comes as many thousands of U.S. doctors and nurses have been furloughed amid the collapse in consumer demand following the coronavirus crash. In April, the medical sector lost 1.4 million jobs.

The new unemployment adds to the nation’s huge number of retired and part-time medical professionals.

Democrats are also using the crisis to push for greater immigration, despite the overwhelming public demand that Americans get hired for any jobs during the crash.

Many GOP legislators oppose legislation that would expand the award of green cards to migrants. So the bill claims not to create new green cards, but only to “recapture previously unused immigrant visas” that were available in prior years but which were not used.

In the short term, the ‘HEROES’ bill is unlikely to pass, but it shows that the nation’s healthcare industry wants to flood the market with hospital-managed foreign doctors and nurses, said Lynn.

This rush of new workers will be used by hospital chains to boost revenues and forced down wages — and to undermine Americans’ preference for dealing with familiar, local doctors, he said.

The hospital chains are already boosting their market share in the nation’s healthcare sector by buying up doctors’ officers, Lynn said. As the hospitals used imported doctors to fill the former offices of local doctors, they can funnel patients towards high-profit hospital services, he said.

The Democrats’ draft bill would allow the hospital chains to import more doctors to expand those vertical networks, he said. “It would preserve the profit margins — it doesn’t lead to better healthcare outcomes,” he said.

However, the healthcare sector is winning support in the Senate for a broader bill that would help healthcare companies gain more power over the supply of new doctors and nurses.

GOP Sen. David Perdue, (R-Ga.) is championing a companion bill that would provide 40,000 extra green cards for healthcare employers to import more foreign-trained doctors and nurse.

The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act is backed by the major industry groups in the healthcare sector, including the American Medical Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Hospital Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and, an advocacy group for West Coast investors.

The bill is backed by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, or email the author at


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