S.1189 Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Act

The Conrad State 30 Program, which permits States to support up to 30 J-1 physicians for a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement, has placed thousands of J-1 physicians to medically underserved areas in the United States. The Conrad 30 Program has been in existence since 1994 and has been reauthorized by Congress several times. The current reauthorization expires September 30, 2015.

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) have proposed legislation not only to reauthorize the Conrad State 30 Program, but also to improve it. The bill, “Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Act,” S.1189, would, among other things, remove the sunset provisions, clarify requirements of the Physician National Interest Waiver classification, and make important technical fixes to the program including confirming the ability of J-2 spouses to change status to classifications other than H-4 and clarifying the 90-day rule. In 2013, Brian Bruner worked with Senator Amy Klobuchar’s staff on an earlier version of this bill in regard to the J-1 waiver 90-day rule based on his keen understanding of how this law works and his strong set of skills in reading and crafting legal texts.

If the Conrad State 30 Program is not reauthorized by September 30, 2015 and does sunset, it does not mean that the Conrad State 30 Program will immediately shut down. The States will still be able to support waiver applications for J-1 physicians who were admitted in, or acquired, J-1 status before September 30, 2015. Failure to reauthorize the program affects the ability of J-1 physicians admitted in or acquiring J-1 status after September 30, 2015.

In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives has also introduced a bill to reauthorize the Conrad 30 Program. The Conrad State 30 Program provision found in H.R. 3370 addresses only the permanent reauthorization of the program, as it is set to sunset on the same day as the EB-5 entrepreneurial investor program, the primary focus of H.R. 3370. By contrast, the Senate bill, Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Act, focuses exclusively on the Conrad 30 program and introduces sweeping improvements to the Conrad 30 Program.

The Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Act, S.1189, 114th Cong. (2015), available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/search/pagedetails.action?packageId=BILLS-114s1189is.