House and Senate conferees agreed yesterday to ease a provision requiring American medical schools to accept American students transferring from foreign medical schools or lose federal aid.
Several leading medical schools, including Yale, John Hopkins, Duke, Stanford, Case-Western Reserve and the University of Chicago, had announced their intention to forego federal money rather than waived their regular admissions criteria to admit the transferring students.
The present law, passed in 1976, requires American medical schools to accept a stated number of America ns at the end of their second year of medical school abroad if they pass a National Board of Medical Examiners test. Admissions would take place in 1978, 1979 and 1980. The law prohibits medical schools from applying their own admission standards.
The measure approved yesterday by the conferees would require American medical schools to expand enrollment in September, 1978, by 5 per cent, using their freshman or third-year class as a base. The schools would be allowed to apply their own admissin standards in accepting students, but they would have to fill their quota of applicants from the eligible pool. Following the 1978 academic year the provision would be repeated.
Students eligible for the positions created, about 750 to 800 in medical schools across the country, would include students from two-year American medical shools or Americans who have been studying in foreign medical schools prior to Oct. 12, 1976. About 2,000 applicants are expected for the positions that would be available if the conference report is accepted by both houses and signed by the President.
Medical schools refusing to comply would lose grants of about $1,400 per enrolled student for three consecutives years. Under the present law, non-complying medical schools will lose grants only in the year they fail to accept foreign transfer students, but all students enrolled in those schools are ineligible for federal loans. The new provision would leave students eligible for loans regardless of whether the school complies or not with the transfer student provision.
Dr. John A. D. Cooper, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, called the conference bill "a good bill . . . [that] does remove a lot of the objections of the medical schools and does remove a lot of the intervention of the federal government in the admission of students." Cooper said, however, that he did not knoe whether any of the schools refusing to comply with the present law will find the conference bill acceptable.