Monday, February 14, 2011

CNMI House votes to allow foreign physicians to be licensed without U.S. residency or USMLE exams

The U.S. Territory of the CNMI House Bill 17-77 was narrowly defeated. Teresita Santos, Vice Speaker Felicidad T. Ogumoro, House Floor Leader George N. Camacho, Ramon S. Basa, Edmund S. Villagomez, Fredrick P. Deleon Guerrero, and Joseph M. Palacios all voted to allow the foreign doctors to become licensed in the CNMI without U.S. licensing.

While it is peculiar that patients in the CNMI are allowed to travel to the Philippines for surgeries, allowing the CNMI to completely abolish the U.S. physician licensing structure is truly amazing. Doctors who attend medical schools in the Philippines can already practice anywhere in the United States provided that they pass the USMLE licensing exam step 1, 2 (clinical and practical) and step 3, after they have started their residency at a United States hospital. Recently the CNMI was authorized to apply for J-1 visas for foreign physicians.

I'm not sure what exactly is going on, however as of today, there has not been a single advertisement for physicians under the J1 visa or otherwise. My thought is that the CNMI is merely trying to avoid paying specialized physicians a proper salary, and are trying to attempt to recruit unlicensed professionals that they can exploit. In the process of saving a few hundred thousand dollars in salaries, the government could lose tens of millions of dollars in medicare and medicaid funding.

I just can't understand under what type of visa that these foreign doctors would even be able to come to the CNMI in the first place. Since Nov. 28, 2009, U.S. immigration laws apply to the CNMI. Unless the USCIS is asleep at the wheel when they create the upcoming CW Transitional worker visa regulations, they will not allow any foreign unlicensed doctors to come to the CNMI to practice.