Medical group urges protection for doctors, patients after U.S. travel ban

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By Yasmeen Abutaleb | SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO The largest U.S. physician group
urged President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday to
protect international doctors and seriously ill patients from an
executive order that suspends travel from seven Muslim-majority
countries.

In a letter addressed to Homeland Security Secretary John
Kelly, the American Medical Association warned that the order
created barriers to healthcare by preventing international
physicians from getting back into the country or obtaining
visas. It also wrote that the order should not apply to patients
who need timely medical care in the United States.

“The AMA is concerned that this executive order is
negatively impacting patient access to care and creating
unintended consequences for our nation’s health care system,”
the group said in a letter posted on its web site. “It is
vitally important that this process not impact patient access to
timely medical treatment.”

Last Friday, Trump put a four-month hold on allowing
refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers
from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, saying the
moves would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

Reuters reported earlier this week that Trump’s order
wreaked panic and uncertainty among refugees in the U.S.
pipeline with urgent medical needs, some of whom had prioritized
applications. The order could mean as many as 800
people needing medical entry will be denied entry, said Karen
Monken of HIAS, a Maryland-based refugee assistance organization
formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

Homeland Security said in a statement the executive order “ensures a more rigorous vetting process.”

“The Department of Homeland Security will continue to
enforce all of President Trump’s executive orders in a manner
that ensures the safety and security of the American people,”
the agency said.

The AMA letter also pointed to the importance of
international medical graduates, who comprise one out of every
four physicians practicing in the United States. They are more
likely to work in underserved and poor communities, the group
wrote, and fill training positions that face workforce
shortages.

Other physician groups, including the Association of
American Medical Colleges and American College of Physicians,
expressed concern in separate statements earlier this week that
the order would create further barriers to care.



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