Medical groups urge Congress to reauthorize program to improve physician workforce shortage

In letters to the House and Senate, medical groups urged Congress to pass the Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act, which incentivizes foreign physicians to serve in underserved communities. The bill would extend the Conrad 30 waiver program, which allows these international medical graduates to remain in the United States. 

Without the waiver, these graduates would have to return to their country of origin for at least two years, meaning they would be unable to practice domestically after completing their residency. 

"Across practices and specialties, our country is facing a severe shortage of physicians, especially in rural areas," the letter reads. "For nearly three decades the Conrad 30 waiver program has helped Americans in rural and underserved areas receive medical care from more than 15,000 high-quality physicians in their local communities."

By allowing these international medical graduates to remain in the U.S. through the waiver, historically underserved communities are able to receive greater access to healthcare, the letters argue. 

The bill would reauthorize the waiver program for three years, make improvements to it and permit the gradual expansion of the number of waivers granted to each state. 

Though the program has been expanded once before, the number of waivers granted to each state has not changed in two decades. According to the letter, the bill has support from the Senate and the House, with 26 and 110 bipartisan co-sponsors, respectively.

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