Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) have introduced the bipartisan Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act.  The legislation has been endorsed by major health organizations.   

The State 30 waiver program is a nation-wide physician workforce development program that empowers state departments of public health to place U.S. trained physicians in geographic areas (and at particular facilities) where the state determines there is the greatest need. The program enhances healthcare access and promotes economic development in local, medically underserved areas with no impact on the federal budget (the program is budget neutral).  Rural and underserved communities across the country are short on doctors, and they rely on the Conrad 30 program to fill the gaps.  Only 30 waivers can be issued by each state’s health department each year.

 In brief summary, the Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act will make changes to the existing program as follows:

 • Long-term reauthorization (3 years) of the program.

• Largely technical fixes.

• Clarifying start date requirements.  We worked with Senator Klobuchar’s office in revising the 90-day rule to provide greater flexibility to the J-1 physician and remove some unintended consequences of this rule. 

• Allowing doctors extra time to obtain a waiver if the first state has used its allotment.

• Increasing the number of waivers if states need additional doctors.

• Among other improvements.

The legislation has received the endorsement of the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Hospital Association (AHA), and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).  “The American Medical Association (AMA) strongly supports the “Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Act,” a bill that would reauthorize the law for three years and make improvements to the J-1 visa waiver program,” said the American Medical Association. “J-1 visa waivers play a significant role in placing physicians in communities that face healthcare access challenges. Many communities, including rural and low-income urban areas, struggle to attract physicians to meet their patient needs. This legislation will help ensure continued access to care in medically underserved communities across the U.S.”