The number of foreign graduates of American medical schools allowed to remain in the U.S. would expand under a measure proposed this week by Republican Rep. Mike Lawler. 

The proposal addresses the Conrad 30 program, which allows states to issue 30 waivers for foreign graduates of medical schools on J-1 visas. Lawler's proposal would expand those waivers to 100. 

Doctors remaining in the U.S. would also be designed to work in underserved areas. 

New York, along with the rest of the country, is facing an acute health care worker shortage in the wake of the COVID pandemic — a shortage that has been attributed in part to worker fatigue and vaccination requirements, further complicating the financial picture for many health care networks.

"We're educating these people here," Lawler said Wednesday in an interview. "They're coming here, they're receiving an education and then we're kicking them out. It's illogical." 

Retaining more doctors domestically has the backing of Democrats, as well as a range of immigration advocacy organizations and health care organizations like the Greater New York Hospital Association, Healthcare Association of New York State, Associated Medical Schools of New York, the Suburban Hospital Alliance of New York State and Henry Ford Health. 

"The Doctors in Our Borders Act is an important step toward addressing the nation’s physician shortage. Bolstering our capacity to leverage the J-1 Visa program would provide quick results to the workforce crisis faced by our hospitals and health systems,” said Healthcare Association of New York State President Bea Grause, RN, JD. “We applaud Congressman Lawler for introducing this bipartisan legislation and look forward to continuing our work together to strengthen New York’s healthcare workforce and ensure access to care across New York.”