A push by France’s conservative-led Senate to strip undocumented migrants of their access to free healthcare has sparked a public outcry among workers across the medical profession, many of whom have pledged to ignore a measure they describe as an ethical, sanitary and financial aberration.
Medical practitioners voiced their dismay in a flurry of media statements after senators from the right-wing Les Républicains amended a government-sponsored immigration bill last week to axe a scheme known as State Medical Aid (AME) – which provides free healthcare to undocumented migrants who have settled in France.
The amended bill, which will be examined by the National Assembly next month, was swiftly panned by health officials, who warned that it would present a threat to public health and that long-term costs would far exceed any initial savings.
The head of the Paris hospital consortium AP-HP said scrapping the AME would allow diseases to spread undected and ultimately increase the burden on France’s health system. The Federation of French Hospitals (FHF) described it as “humanitarian, sanitary and financial heresy”.
In its amended bill, Retailleau’s party replaced the scheme with a more restrictive “emergency medical assistance” (AMU), which would cover only cases of “severe illness and acute pain”.
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