(Washington, DC: April 21, 2019) Healthcare continues to be at the center of the national debate, especially after the Trump Administration’s efforts to dismantle Affordable Care Act, and to do away with the Individual Mandate, affecting almost everyone in the country. Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, representing over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, wants to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill and around the nation, particularly on issues relating to healthcare.
Indian-Americans constitute less than one percent of the country’s population, but they account for nine percent of the American doctors and physicians. One out of every seven doctors serving in the US is of Indian heritage, providing medical care to over 40 million of US population.
Continuing with its mission and objective to have its collective voice heard on the corridors of power, AAPI is organizing its annual Legislative Day on April 30th, 2019 at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC. With participation from dozens of key Congressmen and Senators, the event will be a unique opportunity for AAPI to be part of the decision making process on matters related to healthcare.
“AAPI has been seeking to collectively shape the best health care for the people of US, with the physician at the helm, caring for the medically underserved as we have done for several decades when physicians of Indian origin came to the US in larger numbers,” says Dr. Naresh Parikh, president of AAPI. “During the annual Legislative Conference, among others, AAPI will discuss: Increased Residency Slots, Immigration Reform, Medicare and Medicaid Reimbursements, Tort Reform, Repeal of the Individual Mandate, Lowering the Cost of Prescription Drugs, and, The South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2017,” he added.”
“AAPI is once again in the forefront in bringing many burning health care issues facing the community at large and bringing this to the Capitol and to the US Congress,” says Dr. Vinod Shah, Chair of AAPI Legislative Affairs Committee. “As Congress has now passed a repeal of this part of the Affordable Care Act, which takes place in 2019, what does this mean for the average physician practice if patients drop their health care coverage and how will this impact premiums? AAPI will have an opportunity to hear from the Congressmen on their perspectives on this critical issue,” added Dr. Shah.
AAPI urges US Congress to support and implement the H.R. 3592, The South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2017. This legislation introduced in the last session of Congress, would provide for research and grants to improve the cardiovascular health care of South Asian Americans, Dr. Shah said.
Dr. Vinod Shah urged his “AAPI colleagues and everyone interested in or connected with providing health care to attend this event and ensure that our concerns and needs are heard by our lawmakers and ensure that they act on them.”
“AAPI Legislative day is a flagship annual event that is eagerly awaited to rekindle and renew our energy in bringing up the issues that we need to bring to the attention of national policy makers and leaders of the US Congress on Capitol Hill,” said Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Co-chair of AAPI Legislative Affairs Committee. “A tradition of more than two decades which has brought many important transformations in National Health policies that have helped Physicians of Indian Origin, now, it is the need of the day to renew our friendship with new leadership and brief on our issues.”
According to Dr. Shivangi, “Even though our major issues of uniform licensing laws and reciprocation, discrimination in residency have been done away with to some extent, we need to be still vigilant with the issues of Foreign Medical graduates in residency allotment, increase in Medicare funding so as to increase the Residency slots. The most burning issue of all at present time is H1 Visa, waiver and decades of wait for Green Card that affects Indian Physicians. It is also time to welcome our new Indian Ambassador to USA Hon. Harsha Vardhan Shringala to AAPI. I look forward to see many of our friends in Washington, DC on April 30th, 2019.” Dr. Shivangi added.
Stating that the US is currently experiencing a physician shortage, which will be exacerbated by retiring baby boomers, affecting thousands of patients’ access to a physician, and ultimately the health care they need, AAPI strongly supports, the much needed “Immigration Reform, particularly with the focus on H-1 and J-1 visas are used by many South Asian American physicians, playing an important role in providing critical health care across the country,” Dr. Suresh Reddy President-Elect of AAPI, pointed out. “Combined with the Green Card backlog consisting of more than 4 million people, we are very concerned about the impact immigration reform will have on the South Asian American community,” Dr. Reddy added.
“The conference will focus on Immigration Reform and ways for AAPI members to be part of the process in the implementation of the health care reform in this country,” adds Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, Vice President of AAPI. “While medical school enrollment has climbed 2% annually over the past five years through new schools and expansion of existing schools, the number of residency slots funded by Medicare has been capped at about 100,000 since 1997. Congress can act by passing legislation adding 15,000 more residency slots, which will help to train up to 45,000 more doctors in the next two decades,” he added.
AAPI is committed to Tort Reform, says, Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Secretary of AAPI. “In order to reduce the practice of defensive medicine, bring down the overall cost of health care, and limit the number of meritless lawsuits, tort reform will bring fairness into the court system and better serve both the doctor and patient communities.”
In its efforts to help patients struggling with higher healthcare cost, AAPI will urge the lawmakers to help lower the Cost of Prescription Drugs. The exorbitant cost of prescription drugs is a critical health care issue, as some life-saving drugs are too expensive for many patients. As physicians, we want to ensure that the medicines their patients need are affordable and will be taken, to ensure a high quality of life, reduction of chronic ailments, and effective treatment today to prevent increased health care costs in the future.
Pointing to the fact that Medicare and Medicaid Reimbursements have not kept up with the cost of care and the growing populations utilizing them, AAPI wants the Congress to review reimbursement schedules. Failure to do so will result in patients’ inability to find a physician in their community who accepts Medicare and/or Medicaid patients.
Dr. Naresh Parikh says that “AAPI continues to discover her own potential to be a player in shaping the healthcare of each patient with a focus on health maintenance than disease intervention. To be a player in crafting the delivery of health care in the most efficient manner. To strive for equality in health globally. The annual Legislative Day is another way to impact Healthcare policy and programs in a most effective way. Come and join us on Capitol Hill on April 30th.” For more information on AAPI and its several noble initiatives benefitting AAPI members and the larger society, please visit: www.aapiusa.org