U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) has joined Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) in introducing S. 1979, the Conrad State 30 Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation to improve and make permanent the State 30 program, a national initiative that permits states to recommend visa waivers for physicians recruited to care for patients in medically underserved communities.
"Access to quality health care determines whether Kansans can remain in the communities they call home and whether their children can return to raise families of their own," Sen. Moran said. "The Conrad State 30 program is a commonsense way to address medical workforce shortages by allowing more physicians to serve in underserved communities."
"We face a critical shortage of doctors in rural America today," Sen. Conrad said. "Many communities in rural parts of North Dakota -- and across the nation -- are unable to attract qualified physicians. As a result, families are forced to travel great distances for routine health care. That is unacceptable."
Sen. Conrad created the popular State 30 program through legislation he first introduced in 1994, and Sen. Moran introduced legislation to extend the program during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives. Under the State 30 program, foreign-born, American-trained doctors agree to practice medicine in underserved communities for at least three years in exchange for the waiver of certain visa restrictions that extends their stay in the United States. Since its inception, the State 30 program has been extended numerous times and brought more than 9,000 doctors to rural and underserved communities in all 50 states.
The physician shortage in America is a growing crisis. By 2020, projections show the nation may fall short by as many as 200,000 doctors. This shortage will be felt hardest in rural areas in Kansas, North Dakota, and across the nation. S. 1979 provides additional incentives for more doctors to participate in the program. Also, the bill provides a method for states to increase the number of waivers available to work in underserved communities.