According to Pete Johnson, Federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), more physicians will soon be practicing in the DRA area. The implementation of the DRA Physician Visa Waiver Program will, according to Johnson, enable more people in the region to have better access to affordable healthcare.
The DRA Physician Visa Waiver Program will enable foreign medical graduates, currently in the U.S. under J-1 status to remain in the U.S. for a period of three additional needs. Current J-1 regulations require J-1 trainees to return to their native land after completion of their training. The new DRA program would enable these graduates to receive a waiver, as long as they agree to serve in a medically underserved area of the DRA region for a period of three years. These regions include urban and rural areas of the Delta Region.
These physicians must also agree to provide primary care service for 40 h/week and must treat all categories of patients (including Medicare, Medicaid and indigents).
According to Johnson, the program’s outcomes include the following two key goals:
Reduction in health care costs and the physical and mental anguish of diseases; and An improvement in the prevention efforts of unhealthy lifestyles in children and adults.
A federal-state partnership, the DRA was established by Congress in December of 2000 with the specific purpose of providing a conduit for resources and aid in the economic development of the Mississippi Delta region. The DRA includes 240 counties in the following eight states: