Reps. Schneider and Issa Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Address Physician Shortages
Today, Congressmen Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation to help increase the number of doctors available to work in underserved and rural areas. The bill would extend and expand the Conrad 30 Waiver program which allows doctors here from abroad to remain in the U.S. upon completing their residency under the condition that they practice in underserved areas for at least three years.
According to estimates, the United States could face shortages for as many as 100,000 physicians by 2030.
“The American medical education system attracts top international talent and produces the best-trained graduates in the world,” said Congressman Brad Schneider. “It makes no sense to force these highly-skilled new doctors out of the country at a time when many of our communities struggle to attract medical professionals. Extending the Conrad 30 visa waiver program is a commonsense step toward ensuring all Americans have access to quality health care providers.”
“At a time when so many communities both here in California and across the country are facing shortages of much needed physicians, it’s never been more important to provide opportunities for top-notch physicians from around the world to stay here in America and help fill these needs,” said Congressman Darrell Issa. “The bill we’ve introduced extends and improves the Conrad 30 program to provide care where it’s needed most. If signed into law, the bill would be a big win for small and rural areas, underserved communities within larger states like California, and the patients who will have improved access to world class care where they live.”
Under current law, international medical students using a J-1 visa to study in the United States are required to return to their country of origin for two years upon completion of their medical residency before they are eligible to apply for a green card or visa. The Conrad 30 program waives this return requirement for a limited number of new physicians each year that agree to work three years in an underserved area of the United States. The Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act, reauthorizes the program, which is set to expire on April 28, until 2021.
The legislation also expands the program by providing a path to increase the number of waivers available to states, allowing the program to expand beyond the current allotment of 30 waivers per state if certain requirements are met.
The Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, and the Association of American Medical Colleges.
A Senate version of the bill, S.898, was introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND).