June 30, 2020

Nursing Shortage, Not PPE, Poses Biggest Risk Ahead

Lesson learned. If COVID-19 surges this fall, we'll likely be ready with proper PPE.

But will our nurse supply be adequate?

That's the issue being addressed by a new bipartisan bill (S.3599) gaining momentum in the Senate.

What's the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (S.3599)?

HWRA is a US bill introduced on April 30, 2020, by a bipartisan group of five US senators in response to the evidenced shortage of US healthcare workers amidst the coronavirus pandemic. HWRA would authorize the recapture of 25,000 immigrant visas for professional nurses and 15,000 visas for physicians. Specifically, the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act would:

  • Eliminate the backlog of existing visa petitions for nurses and physicians
  • Remove existing per-country caps on nurse and physician visas
  • Allow additional "wait-free" nurse and physician visas to be filed within 90 days of the president's declaration that the COVID-19 national emergency has ended
  • Encourage USCIS and Embassies and Consulates to expedite the processing of these visa petitions

In order to protect US healthcare workers, the sponsor of the visa must provide proof that the hiring of the global healthcare professional has not displaced and will not displace a United States worker.

HWRA is Gaining Momentum

Legislation in support of increased immigration has not seen a groundswell of bipartisan support during the current administration. Here's how HWRA is different:

  • On April 30, a group of five republican and democrat Senators sponsored the bill
  • On May 14, eight additional Senators joined as co-sponsors
  • As of May 15, 7 republicans, 5 democrats, and 1 independent are sponsoring HWRA
  • Senators from Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and Vermont are all sponsors

If the HWRA bill becomes law it will likely do so in the next few weeks. PassportUSA will keep you informed as the bill moves along.

Leading Organizations Support the Bill

HWRA is supported by many leading healthcare associations including:

  • American Medical Association
  • Medical Association of Georgia
  • Healthcare Leadership Council
  • American Association of International Healthcare Recruitment
  • American Hospital Association & American Organization for Nursing Leadership
  • Physicians for American Healthcare Access (PAHA)

Full statements from these organizations and other can be found in this post on our website.

Help Solve a Chronic and Acute Staffing Crisis

The nursing and physician shortage in the US goes well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers at Georgetown University have projected that 200,000 nursing positions will go unfilled this year. All told, one-in eight nursing jobs will be unstaffed. HWRA represents a unique opportunity to help solve a long-term nurse and physician staffing crisis in the US.The support of your healthcare organizations or association can help HWRA pass. To learn more about HWRA, please call or email a PassportUSA Business Development Director or complete the interest form on this page.

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