Government Can’t Marshal Doctors Who Aren’t There

Herbert Pardes omits the cheapest and best solution to the shortage of physicians: increasing the legal immigration of foreign doctors.

The H-1B visa program grants a limited number of visas to doctors, medical professionals and other skilled foreigners. There should be no limit. Additionally, foreign-born doctors often settle in economically unattractive regions like upstate New York that American-born doctors eschew. Over one-third of physicians and surgeons there are immigrants, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.

In 2005, a paltry 7,218 medical and health-care professionals earned H-1B visas, while many were denied. A cap on the number of doctors and medical professionals entering the U.S. discourages health-care access and raises costs. The H-1B visa cap should be removed along with other barriers to the migration of foreign-born doctors and medical professionals. Training more American doctors is important for tomorrow, but looking abroad can help lower medical costs and improve access today.