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Congressman Cole Votes for Increased Access to Physicians in Rural Areas

October 6, 2004
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole today voted for legislation that will improve rural access to physicians by giving foreign students studying and graduating in the U.S. the opportunity to practice medicine in the U.S. Access to Rural Physicians Improvement Act of 2004 (H.R. 4453) passed in the House today.

H.R. 4453 extends the deadline, by one year, for students seeking a waiver from the two-year foreign residence requirement. Under current law, foreign medical graduates who entered the United States on J-1 (exchange visitor) visas must return to his or her country for at least 2 years before being allowed to re-enter the United States in another visa category.

"At a time when doctors are critically needed in rural areas, it does not make sense to turn away doctors who would like to use their skills to help people in our country," Congressman Cole said. "According to Health Resources and Services Administration, over 20 million Americans in rural communities have inadequate access to health care services. This legislation seeks to rectify that by boosting the number of physicians in rural areas," Congressman Cole said.

This legislation must now pass in the Senate.