An influential group of India-American physicians has aligned itself with President Donald Trump's agenda to lower the cost of prescription drugs and urged the Congress to carry out the immigration reform in particular H-1B and J-1 visas.
Scores of Indian-American physicians gathered at the US Capitol Hill last week urging the Congress to pass the necessary legislations which they said need to address this major issue of concern for patients in the United States.
"The exorbitant cost of prescription drugs is a critical health care issue, as some life-saving drugs are too expensive for many patients," said a memorandum submitted by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin or AAPI to the lawmakers.
"As physicians, we want to ensure that the medicines the 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," said AAPI, which is the representative body of thousands of Indian American physicians in the US.
Nearly two dozen lawmakers attended AAPI's Legislative day at the Capitol Hill. Prominent among them were Tulsi Gabbard, Co-Chair of the Indian Caucus; Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Frank Pallone, Joe Wilson and Indian American lawmakers Raja Krishnamoorthi and Pramila Jayapal.
One of the major Emphasis of the agenda was on immigration reform, said Dr Sampat Shivangi, co-chair of AAPI's legislative wing.
Noting that H1 & J1 visas has affected physician group with backlog of their green card and their issue as they are restricted to serve in rural and underserved area, he said that emphasis should be on five years limitation.
"They should be given the green cards as they are not competing with US citizens as there is a tremendous short of physicians in USA. These physicians have made tremendous contributions to the US health care where it is needed," he said.
Later in a meeting with Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, an AAPI delegation led by Dr Shivangi said that the Indian professionals in the US have been unjustifiably waiting for more than a decade to get their green cards or permanent legal residency. This is mainly because of the country-specific quota.
"Senator Roger Wicker agreed to look into it and introduce a bill with the language to overcome this problem," Dr Shivangi said.
"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. 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," AAPI said in its legislative agenda to the lawmakers.
Noting that the US is facing a chronic physician shortage, which will only be exacerbated in the years ahead as more baby boomers retire, AAPI said the 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.
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