The AHCA recommends that these principles shape immigration reform:
1. Let business and industry play a leading role. The long term and post-acute care profession is one of the largest job creators in the country and is willing and able to help drive solutions with Congress. Members of the long term care community employ immigrants and boost the economy. Any visa program must give employers, not the government, the primary say in which workers they need to staff their businesses. In addition, the labor market should also have the primary say in how many workers enter the country annually in a legal program.
2. Create a viable guest worker program that would accommodate the needs of U.S. healthcare providers. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projects that, absent aggressive intervention, the supply of nurses in America will fall 36 percent (more than 1 million nurses) below requirements by the year 2020. AHCA urges the inclusion of allowing employers access to previously unused H-1B temporary work visas for nurses and physical therapists.
3. Waive the cap on employment-based visas for nurses and physical therapists, speech therapists and those providing other therapies. The current temporary and permanent visa programs are insufficient and inadequate to accommodate the needs of U.S. health care providers. The permanent residence program provides approximately 5,000 annual visas for essential workers. Clearly, current programs cannot handle our continuing need for foreign-born, essential caregivers.