Many health workers from abroad

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: Last night, Congress finally completed work on the new health care law and sent it to the president. Among other things, the law expands insurance coverage for nursing homes and long-term care services. Marketplace's John Dimsdale tells us now about a study out today that shows more and more people who care for America's elderly were born somewhere else.


John Dimsdale: In some parts of the U.S., 80 percent of the low-skilled care providers, those who help seniors with daily activities like changing clothes and bathing, are immigrants.

The primary author of today's report is Lindsay Lowell with the Institute for the Study of International Migration. He says fewer Americans want these jobs.

Lindsay Lowell: A lot of the care of the elderly used to be taken care of by the family. It still overwhelmingly is, but fewer family members now are available for those jobs. And it's a low-wage sector.

But the aging population will also need more nurses and doctors. Michael Fix oversees research at the Migration Policy Institute. He says U.S. immigration laws will have to change to recognize the education and training that foreign health professionals have earned abroad.

Michael Fix: So if we see stepped-up demand for health care professionals, our system can respond in a flexible way to that increased demand.

There were an estimated 100,000 unfilled nursing jobs last year in the U.S. The stimulus bill included $500 million to address health care worker shortages.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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