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05/29/2024 08:41 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: May 3, 2023 02:18 PM
From: Representative Kristin Marcell and Rep. Arvind Venkat
To: All House members
Subject: J-1 Visa Waiver Primary Care Physician Grant Program
In an effort to improve access to primary care in designated medically underserved areas of the Commonwealth, we will be introducing legislation that will establish the J-1 Visa Waiver Primary Care Physician Grant Program.
Over 100 million people in the United States—many of whom are children—lack access to a regular source of primary care according to a February 2023 study published by the National Association of Community Health Centers. The number of Pennsylvanians who are medically underserved is estimated to be 2,616,232. The problem is more acute in rural areas, which struggle to recruit doctors. This lack of providers is one reason people living in rural areas experience worse health outcomes than people who live in urban areas.
International medical graduates are increasingly stepping in to fill the gap in medically underserved areas of the United States, and many of them start their profession through the J-1 Visa program. A J-1 Visa enables foreign students to attend medical school or begin their residency in the United States. A stipulation of the J-1 Visa is that upon completion of training, the physicians must return to their home country for two years. This requirement however is eliminated under the Conrad 30 Waiver, which allows J-1 Visa foreign medical graduates to apply for a waiver, through the state’s Department of Health, of the two-year foreign residence requirement upon completion of the J-1 Visa program. The program is intended to address the shortage of qualified doctors in medically underserved areas. In return for the waiver, the physician must practice a total of three years in an approved medically underserved area in Pennsylvania. A significant challenge is that rural physician practices struggle to find the resources to hire a J-1 Visa holder to participate in the Conrad 30 Waiver program.
Our legislation will create a state grant program for preferably independent physician practices to hire J-1 Visa Waiver physicians in areas in which there is a health professional shortage. The program would provide up to $100,000 a year for three years for the employer to use in supporting a physician’s salary. This program will help place physicians in areas where they are most needed and ensure that healthcare organizations have the resources and support to retain these physicians.
Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1672