The Immediate and Future Role of the J-1 Visa Waiver Program for Physicians: The Consequences of Change for Rural Health Care Service Delivery


Examines the consequences for the delivery of healthcare services in rural underserved areas if current policies governing the granting of J-1 visa waivers are changed and increases or decreases the numbers of physicians affected. Among its findings: J-1 visa waiver doctors provide care to more than 4 million people living in underserved areas of rural America. If all primary care doctors in the program were to leave, the number of rural counties with no primary care physicians would go from 161 to 212. Makes several recommendations: 1) The Department of Health and Human Services--which currently only requests waivers for physicians involved in research-should consider requesting waivers for doctors to practice in underserved areas. 2) Physicians recommended for waivers should be allowed to begin practicing in underserved areas as soon as the request is made. If, in subsequent screening, a problem turns up the waiver would be revoked. 3) The Conrad State 20 Program, which allows the 44 states that participate in it to sponsor waivers, should be expanded from 20 waivers per year to 40.

RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
Keith Mueller