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ACR Applauds Bipartisan Bill to Bring International Doctors to Medically Underserved Areas

ATLANTA - The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) today issued the following statement praising U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins, (R-ME) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) for introducing the bipartisan Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act.

The ACR applauds U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) for their leadership in introducing the bipartisan Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act, which will allow international doctors to remain in the U.S. upon completing their residency under the condition that they practice in rural and underserved communities.

Access to rheumatologic care is critical for people living with diseases like rheumatoid arthritis to manage pain and avoid long-term disability. Unfortunately, recent workforce studies indicate a growing scarcity of rheumatologists, particularly in more rural and less populated portions of our nation. The access crisis created by this shortage of rheumatologists  is compounded by historically high rates of arthritis and recent immigration policy that makes it harder for international medical residents and doctors to train and practice in the U.S.

The ACR is committed to advancing common-sense legislation – including the newly introduced Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act – that makes it easier to attract and retain international rheumatologists to practice in medically underserved areas of the United States.

Furthermore, the ACR asks that DHS Secretary Kelly and officials at USCIS consider exempting medical professionals from the current suspension of H-1B visa priority processing and any future modifications of the H-1B visa program to allow for international physicians to continue to enter the United States to care for underserved patients. The current six-month suspension of premium processing will impact virtually all the medical professionals applying to work in underserved areas of our nation, with severe impacts felt as soon as this July.

We thank Senators Klobuchar, Collins and Heitkamp for their leadership on this important issue and look forward to working with our partners in Congress and the medical community to advance the newly introduced legislation.

 

Jocelyn Givens
404-633-3777, ext. 810
jgivens@rheumatology.org

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The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is the nation's leading advocacy organization for the rheumatology care community, representing more than 9,500 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. As an ethically driven, professional membership organization committed to improving healthcare for Americans living with rheumatic diseases, the ACR advocates for high-quality, high-value policies and reforms that will ensure safe, effective, affordable and accessible rheumatology care.

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