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June 24, 2020

Around the nation: Trump pauses some nonimmigrant work visas, citing 'threat' amid Covid-19 economic downturn

Daily Briefing

    Under a proclamation President Trump issued Monday, his administration through the end of this year will not authorize certain new, nonimmigrant work visas issued outside of the United States, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from the District of Columbia and Maryland.

    • District of Columbia: President Trump on Monday issued a proclamation to temporarily suspend and curb certain nonimmigrant work visas issued outside of the United States through the end of this year, saying the such visa programs "pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers" amid the economic downturn sparked by the global coronavirus pandemic. Under the proclamation, the Trump administration will not authorize new H-1B visas, which typically are used by technology companies; H-2B visas, which are used for nonagricultural seasonal workers; J-1 visas, which are used for cultural exchanges; or L-1 visas, which are used for managers and certain other employees of multinational corporations, the Associated Press reports. The changes do not affect visas for agricultural laborers, health care professionals responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, certain food processing employees, and certain other temporary workers. According to the Washington Post, the changes will apply only to visa applicants seeking to work in the United States, and not to workers who already are in the country. Some business and immigration groups have criticized the move, saying Trump is seeking to restrict legal immigration into the United States under the guise of a public health response (Riechmann/Spagat, Associated Press, 6/23; Ray, Forbes, 6/22; Miroff/Romm, Washington Post, 6/22).
    • District of Columbia: A coalition of LGBTQ groups on Monday filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against HHS, aiming to block a final rule the department issued earlier this month that will roll back a regulation issued under former President Barack Obama that prohibits health care providers and insurance companies from discriminating against transgender individuals. The lawsuit argues that the final rule is intended "to undermine protections for LGBTQ people," and Bamby Salcedo—president and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, which is a plaintiff in the lawsuit—argued that the rule would "hurt marginalized communities who already experience barriers to care." HHS' Office for Civil Rights has said the rule is intended to implement protections that are more closely aligned with text in the Affordable Care Act's antidiscrimination provision, which the office said does not specifically mention gender identity as a protected category in health care (Simmons-Duffin, "Shots," NPR, 6/22; Cole, CNN, 6/22).
    • Maryland: CMS last week lowered its total number of reported deaths linked to the new coronavirus that occurred among residents of U.S. nursing homes by about 3,000, bringing the reported count down to about 29,000. CMS said it revised the number, which the agency first reported in early June, after receiving more precise information from nursing homes (Cirruzzo, Inside Health Policy, 6/22 [subscription required]).

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