Indian doctors in US tell lawmakers about healthcare

Jersey City, Oct 10 (IANS) Leaders of the Association of American Physicians of Indian Origin deliberated with 30 members of US Congress to put across their views on the reforms required in the US health system, the association’s national president Hemant Patel said.

“We offered our support, guidance and advice to the lawmakers as they look for new ideas on reforming the US health system with the 2008 elections round the corner,” he said.

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Patel gave details of the daylong meeting with Congressmen while addressing the annual convention of the Federation of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania held in Jersey City, from Oct 5 to 7.

Leaders of the associations, hundreds of physicians of the Tri-State area and some state health officials and politicians attended the convention.

Patel said the association team briefed Congressmen on the issues impacting not only Indian-American physicians but also all physicians across the US. The issues include health coverage for the uninsured, access to physicians, medicare reimbursement, doctors’ right to make decisions in the interests of patients and medical liability.

He pointed out that the association, now financially stronger than before, also plans to get into legislative advocacy.

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey in his keynote address assured the doctors that “We share your goal of seeing that the 47 million uninsured Americans do not go to sleep without any medical insurance whatsoever”.

Menendez added: “We need to ensure that we do not have gatekeepers – those in insurance companies who have no medical background telling doctors what kind of treatment they can or cannot provide for their patients and guarantee that physicians are not squeezed by the federal government by having their reimbursements reduced.”

Headquartered in Chicago, the association is a 20-year-old umbrella organisation representing 130 member groups nationwide with a constituency of 42,000 physicians, which is almost 17 percent of the total number of doctors in the US.