AHA to Congress: Expedite visas for nurses to boost workforce

The American Hospital Association issued a statement Sept. 14 urging the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Safety to take steps to improve the immigration process to alleviate the U.S. healthcare worker shortage.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated workforce shortages at hospitals due to the physical and emotional toll workers have endured in recent years, the statement says.

The AHA argues that the shortage has resulted in increased workforce costs at hospitals and is "at a critical juncture."

To help alleviate the shortage, the group called on lawmakers to work toward short-term strategies related to the use of immigrant healthcare workers, which include physicians and nurses.

"The AHA believes the State Department and its National Visa Center, along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Customs and Immigration Service, can and should alleviate this situation by ensuring efforts are made to prioritize and expedite the visa issuance process for eligible nurses," the group wrote. "We ask Congress to work with the State Department and USCIS to achieve this goal."

The AHA also asked Congress to consider legislative initiatives including making up to 40,000 unused visas available to healthcare workers. Additionally, the group called on Congress to reauthorize and expand the Conrad 30 visa waiver program for physicians; make unused employment- and family-based visas from fiscal years 1992 to 2022 available in fiscal year 2023; lift the cap on Medicare residency positions; and boost funding for federal programs to develop nurses and other healthcare workers.

Read the full statement here.

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