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Let the Doctors Work


There’s a real shortage of trained doctors in the United States, something that Obamacare will make even more apparent in the coming years. There are also thousands of foreign-trained doctors living in the United States who are being prevented from practicing medicine by a series of barriers erected by a medical guild system that’s attempting to protect its members from competition. The New York Times draws our attention to this crazy state of affairs:

“It doesn’t cost the taxpayers a penny because these doctors come fully trained,” said Nyapati Raghu Rao, the Indian-born chairman of psychiatry at Nassau University Medical Center and a past chairman of the American Medical Association’s international medical graduates governing council. “It is doubtful that the U.S. can respond to the massive shortages without the participation of international medical graduates. But we’re basically ignoring them in this discussion and I don’t know why that is.”

There is, of course, a legitimate need to ensure that doctors licensed to practice in the United States are properly trained and that they speak and understand English. But if there is any group of immigrants for whom the welcome mat should be laid out, it is this one. There is no good public policy reason to do anything but encourage more well qualified immigrant doctors. This is one of the many necessary reforms to our health care system that the architects of Obamacare were too timid or too politically compromised to address. Without this fix, we are in for a world of hurt.

American medical care is expensive and irrationally priced for a combination of reasons, but one of the most important ones is that over the years we’ve gotten ourselves in a position where the rules of the system are written by vested interests who tweak things to their own advantage wherever possible. Doctors are actually one of the weaker participants in the depressing lobby frenzy that creates our messy health care system, but one of the places where the medical guild can stick in its oar is in restricting the entrance of qualified foreigners to the profession. We sympathize with doctors who see ham-handed regulation, malpractice madness, Big Pharma, and other interest groups turning their profession into a less and less happy place (and, incidentally, forcing more and more docs to sign up with big firms rather than running their own practices), but fighting immigrants and otherwise limiting the number of places in med schools in the US are not the right moves.

[Stethoscope image courtesy Shutterstock.]

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I thought we got rid of these Guilds with the middle ages, but evidently not. only now they are called licensing boards, and they come in a hundred different flavors, of which medical doctors is only one. The fact is it should be the personal right of every adult to engage in commercial trade of any good or service with any other adult, no matter if they have some license or membership in a trade organization.

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