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Congress works to prevent doctor shortage

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 12:00 am

Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, introduced bipartisan legislation with Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, to allow international doctors to remain in the U.S. longer than their visas initially permitted if they agree to practice in underserved areas of the country that are in dire need of more doctors.

The Association of American Medical Colleges projects there will be a shortage of 63,000 doctors by 2015 and more than 130,000 by 2025. The bill sponsored by Bera and Meadows will help address that shortage, Bera said in a news release.

“As a doctor myself, I know this legislation is going to help deal with an immense need for more doctors in this country,” said Bera, whose district includes Herald.

Under current law, most international physicians trained in the U.S. on visas must return to their home country for two years after their residency ends before they can apply for a new visa or a green card, Bera said. Under the Conrad 30 program, these doctors can stay in the country without returning home if they agree to practice in an underserved area for three years, he said.

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