Alabama Head Slammer: Doctors Required to Prove Citizenship

Well, this is a great plan. Let's make practicing medicine even more difficult in Alabama. With rural hospitals closing, the Governor stubbornly refusing to expand Medicaid, and many areas already facing a shortage of doctors—there's this little aspect of the state's immigration law that makes everything worse.

Recently, we heard from several physicians who said they had received letters from the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners telling them to send in a notarized statement that says they're either citizens or legal residents. Thinking that this was just too silly to actually be true, I did some research.

Surprise! It's true:

The medical license component did not kick in until this year. Already-licensed physicians and physician assistants now have only two weeks to get their information to the Medical Licensure Commission. Those applying for a license for the first time will be required to either demonstrate they are in the country legally or sign a declaration of U.S. citizenship and give proof, according to the letter. If they don't provide the information, they will not be able to receive or renew their licenses. 

Here's a copy of the letter in PDF format.

And here's Auburn University's report on the crisis of rural medicine in Alabama:

  • In 2004, Alabama rural communities had only one primary care physician for every 2,200 citizens. In urban communities, there was one primary care physician for every 990 individuals.
  • Nine Alabama counties do not have hospitals.
  • 61 of Alabama’s 67 counties are, in part or whole, short of primary care physicians; all rural counties are.
  • Every Alabama county but two is included on the latest federal list of officially approved Medically Underserved areas.
  • In parts of rural Alabama, deaths from cervical cancer are 56 percent higher than the U.S. as a whole and 30 percent higher than non-rural Alabama.
  • In other Alabama areas, deaths from prostate cancer are 40 percent higher than the U.S., and 26 percent higher than non-rural Alabama.
  • Diabetes-related deaths in rural Alabama are 25 to 44 percent higher than the U.S. and 5 to 18 percent higher than non-rural Alabama.

Wouldn't it be great if the Alabama Legislature was as concerned with these statistics as it is in collecting more paperwork from already-licensed and credentialed medical professionals?

But fixing problems is hard work. Making things worse, however...that's something the Alabama Legislature is just great at doing.

Go to AL State Page
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