‘Obamacare’ may perk up US demand for Pinoy nurses

By Paolo Romero, The Philippine Star
The new US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” could possibly help revive America’s demand for Filipino nurses, a lawmaker said yesterday.

LPGMA party-list Rep. Arnel Ty, author of a bill that seeks to increase local employment opportunities for idle Filipino nurses estimated at 300,000, said Obamacare may perk up US demand for foreign nurses.

He said Obamacare will increase by around 10 percent the number of Americans seeking health care.

“This will hopefully spur a bit US demand for new foreign nurses and other health practitioners such as pharmacists, physical therapists, medical technologists, radiologists, and speech pathologists,” Ty said.

Sustained by the US Supreme Court recently, Obamacare will provide health insurance to all Americans who are not currently protected against the risk of incurring medical expenses.

The lawmaker said some 30 million Americans are expected to enjoy access to hospitalization and treatment as well as diagnostic and outpatient services on account of the new US law.

He said for decades, the Philippines has been America’s top supplier of nurses, followed by India, Canada, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Nigeria and Cuba.

However, US hiring of Filipino and other foreign-educated nurses has slowed down since 2010 as a result of steep cutbacks in federal, state and local government subsidies to hospitals and nursing homes, Ty said.

Due to persistent corporate layoffs, the lawmaker said that fewer Americans are enjoying employer-sponsored health insurance.

The US has been producing more nurses on its own. From January to September this year, America produced 156,130 new nursing graduates.

Pinoy nurses seeking US jobs drop

Meanwhile, the number of Filipino nurses seeking to practice in America by taking the US licensure examinations continues to drop.

Citing data from the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc., Ty said only 2,662 Filipino nurses (excluding repeaters) took the NCLEX for the first time from January to September this year.

The number is 39 percent lower compared to the 4,354 Filipino nurses who took the NCLEX in the same period in 2011.

A total of 147,743 Filipino nurses have taken the NCLEX since 1995, without counting repeaters.

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