Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) this week introduced legislation (H.R. 2141) to improve and extend the Conrad State 30 program until 2021, providing a House companion to the Senate bill (S. 898). First enacted in 1994, the program allows state health departments to request J-1 visa waivers for up to 30 foreign physicians per year to work in federally designated Health Professions Shortage Areas or Medically Underserved Areas. The Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Act would increase the state allocations to 35 physicians per year and provide flexibility to further expand the number of waivers in states where the demand exceeds the limit, among other improvements. “Access to health care is a critical issue for our nation,” noted AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels in a letter of support for the bill. “More than 20 million Americans live in areas where there is a shortage of physicians. Our nation’s rural and inner city hospitals struggle to recruit and retain physicians, and the supply of primary care providers in such areas is steadily declining. In many areas of the country, a Conrad State 30 physician is the only source of primary health care.”

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