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Collateral damage: Immigrant ban imperils New Jersey health care

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Sister Patricia Codey, president, Catholic HealthCare Partnership of NJ.
Sister Patricia Codey, president, Catholic HealthCare Partnership of NJ.

President Trump’s Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” has sparked deep and growing concern about the unintended impact the directive will have on healthcare in New Jersey, as well as the country.

Today there are more than 10,000 licensed physicians in the United States who have graduated from a medical school from one of the seven countries outlined in President Trump’s Executive Order.  Banning future physicians from these countries will only worsen the nation’s physician shortage.  Even before the ban, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimated that the current deficit will grow to 94,700 doctors by 2025, and a third of these doctors will be primary care physicians. 

The inescapable fact is that there are simply not enough doctors in the United States to keep pace with demand.  Barring international doctors’ entry into our country will only exacerbate this burgeoning health crisis.

The impact will be felt most acutely in New Jersey. Our residents are cared for by more foreign-born physicians (38.4%) than any other state in our nation.  The Garden State is also ranked second highest in the country with current international medical graduates.

Sadly, after decades of welcoming foreign medical doctors into our state, many of whom provide compassionate care to New Jersey’s most underserved communities, they have been sent the unadulterated message that their services are no longer needed, or appreciated.

The Catholic Healthcare Partnership believes that access to quality healthcare is a fundamental right and those providing that care should be valued and treated with dignity.  We all rely on caregivers at some point in our lifetimes.  To casually dismiss them and their works with the mere stroke of a pen is unjust and fundamentally at odds with the founding values of our country.  It does not reflect the gospel imperatives to welcome the stranger to embrace all into His arms of love.  Jesus, the healer, healed people who came to him regardless of the origin of their country or religious beliefs.

Sister Patricia Codey, president, Catholic HealthCare Partnership of NJ

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