Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) April 7 reintroduced bipartisan legislation (S. 898) to extend and expand the State Conrad 30 J-1 visa waiver programs, which recruit foreign physicians to underserved communities. The Conrad 30 program currently is set to expire April 28.
The measure, which reauthorizes Conrad 30 for 3 years, is similar to the legislation introduced in the 114th and 113th Congress and is supported by the AAMC, the American Medical Association, and the American Hospital Association [see Washington Highlights, May 8, 2015].
In a press statement, the Senators hailed academic medicine in the United States as “top notch universities and medical schools,” and recognized, “Rural communities…across the country are short on doctors, and they rely on the Conrad 30 program to fill the gaps.”
Among other changes, S. 898 would:
Allow for the program to be expanded beyond 30 slots if certain thresholds are met, while still protecting small states;
Create three new Conrad 30 slots per state dedicated for academic medical centers; and
Better align visa terms with residency training and physician practice.
The legislation was included as an amendment in the comprehensive immigration bill that the Senate passed in 2013.