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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. To the gentleman from Texas, I thank you for yielding time.
Mr. Speaker, I'm here to speak in favor of at least a portion of this bill related to the J-1 Visa program. I am a co-chair of the Rural Health Care Coalition along with the gentleman from North Dakota (Mr. Pomeroy). In our efforts in rural States to attract and retain physicians in communities that are highly underserved with medical care, the J-1 Visa program, the Conrad 30 program, has become a critical component of our ability to maintain a health care delivery system.
Kansas alone since 2002 has attracted and retained 103 physicians. There are many communities that I represent in Kansas that have no doctor except for a J-1 Visa doc. Now, a J-1 Visa doctor is someone born in a foreign county but trains in the United States, takes their residency and certification here and earns the ability to practice medicine.
In return for serving in an underserved area--and while I represent generally a rural State--these underserved areas are often urban areas of our country as well. And in return for serving the needs of patients in those communities across America, they are allowed to remain in the United States for an additional 3 years.
Just last August--an example of where this comes home--the American Methodist Ministries of Garden City, Kansas, finally was able to recruit a physician for their community health clinic. That physician is a J-1 visa doctor from Peru; bilingual--a very added attractive feature to this physician's practice, but for a community that was so desperate for a physician, really a dream come true.
Much about how to save lives, improve the health of Kansans and Americans relate to this program. We have tried for a number of years to extend the J-1 visa program longer than for a year at a time. And there are those who want to make changes, reallocate the physicians among States. The Conrad 30 program, the J-1 visa program, allocates 30 physicians per State in the country. The program is managed by State agencies who make the determination and have some flexibility in determining the definition of what is underserved. Most often, it's a general practice, a family, internal medicine doctor; but occasionally it's a specialist in an area that has no ability to attract and maintain a specialist, maybe even at a university hospital setting.
So I come to the floor today to express my desire to see that the J-1 visa program is extended and would tell you that it's very much about saving the lives of persons and very much about increasing the chances that we improve the health of Americans across our country.
So I'm appreciative of the Judiciary Committee bringing this bill to the floor. I congratulate its author for that success, and I'm looking forward to seeing it work its way through a long and always arduous process as we try to balance various States, various regions of the country and a need for physicians across America with the available physicians in this country.
So I appreciate being yielded to. I thank the Speaker for the time I have had to speak in favor. I would like to encourage my colleagues, whether you're from a rural area like me or an urban area like many others, this program matters in the lives of many Americans.
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