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House Judiciary Committee Approves Bill To Reauthorize Temporary Nurse Program

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary approved a bill (H.R. 1933) on June 23, 2011, to help hospitals in inner-city neighborhoods and rural areas that have difficulty in attracting nurses. Specifically, the bill would reauthorize for an additional three years the H-1C temporary visa program that allows foreign nurses to come to the U.S. to work in health professional shortage areas. The bill was reported favorably to the House floor by voice vote.

The prior H-1C program allowed 500 foreign nurses per year to work in the United States. H.R. 1933 would reduce that number to 300 per year. The bill would benefit about 14 hospitals around the country.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), the bill's sponsor, praised the Committee vote: "A number of American hospitals have great difficulty attracting nurses. These include hospitals that serve mostly poor patients in inner-city neighborhoods and some hospitals in rural areas. For example, St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago is the only remaining hospital in an area of over 100,000 people and almost all of its patients live in poverty. St. Bernard almost closed its doors in 1992, primarily because of its inability to attract registered nurses. I introduced H.R. 1933 to help St. Bernard and other similar hospitals. The bill reauthorizes the H-1C program for an additional three years. Just as nurses ensure care for the sick, the H-1C program ensures continued care for patients in inner-city and rural communities."

The committee's announcement is available at http://judiciary.house.gov/news/06232011_2.html.

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