Medical practitioners in France voiced their opposition to an amendment to the immigration bill to remove 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 in December, 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 undetected and ultimately increase the burden on France’s health system. The Federation of French Hospitals (FHF) described it as “humanitarian, sanitary and financial heresy”.
Some 3,500 health workers signed a letter pledging to “continue to treat undocumented patients free of charge and based on their needs, in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath” they took. “Patients from here and elsewhere, our doors are open to you. And will remain so,” they added.
That would effectively mean working for free, said Antoine Pelissolo, a psychiatrist at a hospital east of Paris who co-authored the letter. “If they see a patient who is not covered (by health insurance), they will not be paid,” Pelissolo told AFP. “It’s a very strong stand.”