Obamacare may perk up US demand for Filipino nurses – Solon

THE new US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, could possibly help revive America’s demand for Filipino nurses, a member of the Philippine Congress said over the weekend.

“Obamacare might somewhat stimulate US hiring of foreign nurses,” said LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty, author of a bill that seeks to establish a local jobs plan for the growing number of idle Filipino nurses, now estimated at more than 300,000.

Obamacare will increase by around 10 percent the number of Americans potentially seeking health care, according to Ty.

“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,” he said.

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

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.

For decades, the Philippines has been America’s top supplier of foreign 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 result of steep cutbacks in federal, state and local government subsidies to hospitals and nursing homes.

Due to persistent corporate layoffs, fewer Americans are also enjoying employer-sponsored health insurance.

On its own, the US has also been producing more nurses. In the nine months to September this year alone, America produced 156,130 new nursing graduates.

Meanwhile, the number of Philippine-educated nurses expressing their desire to practice in America by taking the US licensure exam, continues to fall.

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

The number is 1,692 fewer, or 39 percent less, than the 4,354 Filipino nurses who took the NCLEX for the first time in the same nine-month period in 2011, Ty said.

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

Ty is author of House Bill 4582, which proposes to launch the Special Program for the Employment of Nurses in Urban and Rural Services. It seeks to improve the delivery of healthcare services to underserved communities, and provide temporary jobs as well as special training to nurses, who will each serve a six-month tour of duty at a monthly stipend not lower than P22,688.

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