(Washington, DC: April 28, 2017) The growing influence of doctors of Indian heritage is evident, as increasingly physicians of Indian origin hold critical positions in the healthcare, academic, research and administrative positions across the nation. With their hard work, dedication, compassion, and skills, they have thus carved an enviable niche in the American medical community. AAPI’s role has come to be recognized as vital among members and among lawmakers.
In this context, and the nation is back on debating reforming of the Healthcare system in the nation, AAPI’s legislative day, comes to be a vital part of AAPI’s growing influence and having its united voice heard in the corridors of power. “We are excited to announce that our next Legislative Day is on Wednesday, May 3rd in Washington, DC,” said Dr. Ajay Lodha, President of AAPI.
“Our daytime program begins at 10:30 am and will include lunch in the U.S. House of Representatives (B-338 Rayburn Building). We will conclude in the afternoon, giving participants the opportunity to meet their own Congressman on their own time. That evening, we are planning for a reception and dinner with several dignitaries at the Indian Embassy,” summarized, Dr. Lodha.
Describing that AAPI is a non-political umbrella organization which has nearly 90 local chapters, specialty societies and alumni organizations. Almost 10%-12% of medical students entering US schools are of Indian origin. AAPI represents the interests of over 60,000 physicians and 25,000 medical students and residents of Indian heritage in the United States, Dr. Lodha, a prominent physician with decades of service to the country, said, “The mission AAPI, the largest ethnic organization of physicians, is to provide a forum to facilitate and enable Indian American physicians to excel at inpatient care, teaching and research, and to pursue their aspirations in professional and community affairs. The new Executive Committee is working hard to ensure active participation of young physicians, increasing membership, and enabling AAPI’s voice to be heard in the corridors of power, and thus taking AAPI to new heights.”
There are many issues affecting our community. An important debate is ongoing in Congress about repealing the Affordable Care Act. Now is the time to ensure our voices are heard on these vital issues. The formal program will be released in the future. For now, we are asking all AAPI members to make the appropriate travel plans to be in attendance on May 3. Additionally, those with good contacts with their own congressman, should reach out to his/her office and ask them to join us at our program in the Rayburn Building, banquet room B-338, between 10:30 am to 1:30 pm. If your congressman would like to speak, we can arrange their participation.
According to Dr. Lodha, AAPI’s legislative initiatives for 2016-17 include, addressing Physician Shortage, and urged the Congress to increase Residency Positions across USA. “Our nation is currently experiencing a physician shortage, which will be exacerbated by retiring baby boomers. The result of such a shortage may affect thousands of patients’ access to a physician, and ultimately the health care they need. The only way to address this future crisis is to increase the number of residency positions available for future physicians to get trained, so that our nation can effectively manage the need for increased patient care. Increasing the size of medical school classes is not enough. There must be a simultaneous increase in the size of residency positions to train these future doctors. As Congress capped the number of residency positions in 1997, it is time for Congress to act NOW to remedy this critical situation. AAPI believes that ALL Americans have the right to see a physician,” Dr. Lodha said.
AAPI has appealed to the US Congress to increase the size of entering Medical School classes, Dr. Lodha said. Pointing out that from 1980-2005, while medical school enrollment remained flat, the U.S. population increased by more than 70 million people. Because the percentage of baby-boomer generation doctors (55 and older) rose from 27 percent to 34 percent during this time, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts that America will need 90,000 physicians by 2020, Dr. Lodha said, the number of physicians needed by 2025 according to the AAMC will reach a staggering 130,000. One way to address this shortage is to increase medical school class sizes to meet this future health care need. This issue is vital as it pertains to health care reform, as more physicians will be needed to provide quality health care to our nation’s uninsured patients.
Dr. Lodha has urged the newly elected President and his administration to enact Medical Liability Reform. “AAPI supports a healthy doctor-patient environment by curbing aggressive litigation targeting physicians,” Dr. Lodha said. Such lawsuits have had a chilling effect and driven up the cost of health care, through extra testing and the practice of defensive medicine. In the 112th Congress, The “Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011,” (H.R. 5) limited the conditions for lawsuits and punitive damages for health care liability claims. It established a statute of limitations and limited noneconomic damages to $250,000. AAPI signed a coalition letter led by the American Medical Association to the Deficit Reduction Committee, which noted that the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost savings from implementing medical liability reform, including limits on noneconomic damages, to be $62.4 billion over 10 years. Fewer physicians today practice in areas such as obstetrics and gynecology, surgery and emergency medicine, due to increased lawsuits and increasing malpractice insurance premiums.
AAPI supports federal and state legislation that places effective caps on non-economic damages, limits the use of joint-and-several liability, provides physicians with flexibility to negotiate settlements with medical insurers and further limits the statute of limitations for filing medical malpractice claims, Dr. Lodha said.
Endorsing President Trump’s call, Dr. Lodha said, AAPI supports the modification of the Affordable Care Act. “We believe that the current ACA could be improved upon greatly. To merely repeal the ACA would result in 20 million losing their health insurance coverage and that would be problematic to say the least. A more reformed system with emphasis on free-market while retaining the provisions protecting consumers with pre-existing conditions would be ideal.” According to Dr. Lodha, AAPI opposes MACRA and MIPS. These systems detract from the care of patients by adding an excessive amount of paper work. There is a tremendous burden to report all of these measures. “To raise our voices together and to have our voices heard on Capitol, Hill, we look forward to seeing you on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, May 3rd for our Legislative Day,” Dr. Lodha added. For more information on AAPI and its programs and initiatives, please visit: www.aapiusa.org