More than 3,000 caregivers, including the Nobel Prize winner in medicine (2008) Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and the president of the National Consultative Ethics Committee Jean-François Delfraissy, are calling for “the maintenance” of State Medical Aid (SOUL) for undocumented foreigners, in a column published this Thursday in The world.
“We, caregivers of all specialties and all origins, wish to firmly and unitedly oppose the plan to abolish the AME in favor of a degraded system,” write the signatories.
They call on “the government and our elected officials to renounce any project affecting or restricting its scope” as provided for in the immigration bill, examined from Monday in the Senate. In the text of the law, it is replaced by emergency medical aid with a more restricted scope of care.
“A tool to combat exclusion”
The AME allows full coverage of health costs granted to foreigners in an irregular situation present in France for at least three months and according to the latest national study carried out by theIrdes (Institute for Research and Documentation in Health Economics), published at the end of 2019, one in two illegal immigrants benefited from it. It is “a tool to combat exclusion which is only accessible to people whose resources are less than 810 euros per month and who demonstrate stable residence in France,” they emphasize.
These patients are not “the vast majority of people who have migrated to France to seek treatment, but people who have fled poverty, insecurity or who have done so for family reasons”. However, “their difficult living conditions in France expose them to significant risks”, judge these caregivers, for whom “the distance from the health system ultimately leads to delays in diagnosis, imbalance and aggravation of diseases chronic conditions, as well as the occurrence of complications.
Any removal of the AME, which would in fact “limit their access to care”, could lead to “a deterioration in their state of health”, worry the signatories, who recall that in Spain, the implementation of a similar policy in 2012 before repeal in 2018 had led to “an increase in the incidence of infectious diseases as well as excess mortality”. “We (…) treat undocumented people like any other patients. Out of humanity, and in accordance with the code of medical ethics to which we refer and the Hippocratic oath that we took at the end of our studies. It is the honor of our profession,” they add.