On April 10, 2017, the website of Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota released a press release titled: “Kloubachar, Collins, Heitkamp Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Number of Doctors in Rural and Other Medically Underserved Areas” [PDF version].
The press release announces that Senators Amy Kloubachar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced bipartisan legislation titled the “Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act” [PDF version]. The proposed legislation would extend the Conrad 30 Waiver Program until 2021 and would provide for the expansion of the Conrad 30 Waiver program beyond 30 slots “if certain thresholds are met.” The proposed legislation would also provide for employment authorization for the spouses of Conrad 30 Waiver beneficiaries. Senator Heitkamp proposed a version of the legislation in 2013.
Without an extension, the Conrad 30 Waiver program is slated to expire on April 28, 2017. The most likely scenario appears to be that the Conrad 30 Waiver program will be extended as is through September.
However, the Senate would be wise to consider the legislation proposed by Senators Heitkamp, Collins, and Kloubachar to extend the Conrad 30 Waiver program long term and to provide for its expansion under certain conditions. Last December, I wrote a post about why the Conrad 30 Waiver program is a valuable immigration initiative [see blog]. First, the Conrad 30 Waiver program allows a limited number of highly educated professionals to ply their craft in the United States. Second, the Conrad 30 Waiver program places talented physicians in areas of need that struggle to attract qualified American doctors. An immigration program that both encourages merit-based immigration and fills a crucial void left by a dearth of interested American professionals is well worth maintaining and strengthening.
Please see our full article to learn about the rules of the Conrad 30 Waiver program as it exists today [see article].