Klobuchar: Immigration Reform Would Fix Rural Healthcare

Posted at: 05/03/2013 6:35 PM
By: Katie Eldred

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Many rural areas have struggled to find doctors to serve their patients Senator Amy Klobuchar believes she has a solution to this problem.

The community of Grand Meadow lost their local health clinic back in March after it was unable to find a doctor to staff the location.
"There's quite a bit of shock and I don't think anybody really knows that it would be closing," said Mower County Commissioner Polly Glen.

Senator Amy Klobuchar says the U.S. will have a shortage of 63,000 doctors by 2015 and 130,000 by 2025.

Senator Klobuchar stopped at UMR Friday to explain her solution that would help keep international doctors here in the U.S. to fill this shortage.

"What they have to do now is when they come and they start working here, they are required to go back to their home country for two years before they can come back and start working on their green card," said Sen. Klobuchar.

Sen. Klobuchar says under the new legislation, that’s included in the larger immigration reform bill, instead of leaving the U.S. the doctors could work in rural clinics or other areas where they are needed for the same period of time.

“Because guess what? we have underserved areas that need their help,” said Sen. Klobuchar.

The legislation isn't just about a shortage of doctors, it's also about keeping the talent here.

"Mayo Clinic health system has lost physician candidates because we couldn't promise them that we would get them one of the 30 slots," said Mayo Clinic’s Patricia Simmons.

"Making sure we have the best and the brightest from all over the world is something that Mayo Clinic has always thrived on," said Sen. Klobuchar.

It could just be the end to communities like Grand Meadow’s problems.

"They knew Dr. Gregg was close to retirement, but I'm sure everyone was hoping that they would find someone else to be able to take this location over," said Glen.

Sen. Klobuchar is also working on part of the bill that works to keep science and engineering or hi-tech workers here as well. There should be a vote on the immigration reform bill in the next few weeks.