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Bill May Ease Nursing Shortages

November 3, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nursing shortages in rural and inner-city hospitals may be eased by qualified foreign nurses under legislation Congress has sent to President Clinton.

The legislation, given final passage Tuesday by the House, provides temporary nonimmigrant visas for up to 500 nurses a year. Hospitals must make serious attempts to recruit and retain domestic nurses before searching abroad.

The bill, to expire in four years, ``would assist the underserved communities of this nation by providing adequate health care for their residents,″ said chief sponsor Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.

A 1989 law that granted temporary visas to foreign nurses because of a shortage at the time expired in 1997.

Rush said the shortage persists in poorer areas.

The House approved Senate amendments to the original House bill Tuesday, including a provision that makes it easier for hospitals in underserved areas to hire foreign physicians.

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The bill is H.R. 441.

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