Moran backs bill promoting rural docs
Special to The Hays Daily News
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., is among the senators who have introduced Senate Bill 616, the Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Act.
The bipartisan legislation will improve and make permanent the State 30 program (also known as the J-1 Visa Waiver Program), a national initiative that permits states to recommend visa waivers for physicians recruited to care for patients in medically underserved communities.
"Access to physicians and other health care providers is essential to the survival and success of Kansas towns and rural communities across the country," Moran said. "We face a serious shortage of physicians in rural America. The Conrad State 30 program is a common-sense way to help address this medical workforce shortage by allowing more physicians to serve in the underserved communities that need them most."
"The J-1 Visa Waiver Program is essential to providing health care in rural communities throughout Kansas and across the United States," said Dr. John Jeter, Hays Medical Center CEO and president. "It is difficult to recruit physicians to rural communities, and this program is a tool that has allowed Hays Medical Center and other rural hospitals and clinics the opportunity to recruit and retain physicians."
The State 30 program has brought thousands of physicians to rural, inner city, and other medically underserved communities since it began in 1994.
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 lengthens their stay in the United States.
Since its inception, the State 30 program has been extended several times and brought doctors to rural and underserved communities in all 50 states.
By 2020, projections show the nation could fall short by as many as 200,000 doctors. This shortage will be felt hardest in rural areas in Kansas and across the nation.
The bill has the backing of several health care organizations, including the Kansas Hospital Association.