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BY MAHADEV DESAI
The Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage (GAPI) held its annual banquet at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North, on Saturday, April 17. The gala event was attended by over 250 members from the medical field and graced by the presence of former U.S. Rep.Hon.Nathan Deal, and candidate for Georgia Governor 2010 and Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) President, Dr. Gary Richter.
Earlier in the day there was an excellent CME program on risk management, tax reduction strategies and asset management and diabetes in Southeast Asians. The program also included a riveting talk on Ayurveda by Pallavi Sinha and a yoga demonstration.
During the social hour, the attendees intermingled and networked with each other, enjoyed the tasty snacks and also visited about 20 booths set up by pharmaceutical corporations, insurance providers, health care related businesses; and not for profit Vibha. For book lovers, noted author Robert Arnett was busy selling his highly popular literary masterpieces,’ India Unveiled’ and ‘Finders Keepers: A True Story’.; while Anokhi Ada was enticing ladies with its array of colorful saris.
Following the social hour, GAPI Treasurer Dr.Abhishek Gaur introduced one of the Guest speakers, former U.S. Rep.Hon.Nathan Deal, and candidate for Georgia Governor 2010. In his engaging and informative speech Deal commended the GAPI members, “ You provide care for people that otherwise would be without care and you do that as a part of a great medical community in our great State and I want to thank you for all you do, for making healthcare affordable, and available to the citizens of our State, and I am also impressed with what you do in terms of your scholarships because ensuring quality education for the deserving students is enormously important.”
He said some areas of health care needed reforms but it was probably more a social agenda rather than a health care agenda. “The Health Care Bill now is law,” he said. “At the state level, what concerns me is the mandated expansion of Medicaid program to 133% of the Federal poverty level. That will increase the number of Medicaid patients who will show up in your hospitals and medical practices. I believe many of these individuals are currently covered by private health insurance provided in most cases by their employer. But if all of a sudden taxpayers are providing a Healthcare service package, private insurance policy will go by the wayside and taxpayers will assume that burden. And from the provider’s standpoint, it would mean reduction in reimbursement for services that would have been paid for under private health insurance plan. There are several concerns like this and that is why 16 or so States are challenging the constitutionality of the proposed measures.”
Deal then spoke about some positive side of Healthcare. The Healthcare provides great opportunities as well and we are on the verge of a new era. There is a great future in pharmaceuticals and bio/technology industries as well as in medical devices. He informed the audience of his intention to run for Governor. “ I like to encourage diversity and look forward to your support,” he said.
Dr.Sreeni Gangasani introduced the next Guest Speaker, Dr.Gary Richter, and President of the Medical Association of Georgia(MAG) . Following the introduction by Dr.Sreeni Gangasani, Dr.Richter, in his brief but compelling address, informed the listeners about MAG and its mission to enhance patient care and the health of the public by advancing the art and science of medicine and by representing physicians and patients in the policy making process. MAG employs an integrated approach, including strategic programs in the third-party payer, government relations, legal advocacy, communications, education, and health. He said that the members were generally disappointed with more Government control in medical care with the passage of the Health Care Bill. 90% of the members felt that it was better to be involved with national rather than local scene in the matter.
Dr. Richter said the tort reform law created a more attractive practice environment, which
translates into a more stable physician population. He pointed out that there are some 1,000 more
physicians in Georgia since the tort reform law passed in 2005.The bad news though is that the Supreme Court of Georgia recently struck down the state's caps on pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cases. As a result the medical liability insurance premiums which were down by about 18% since 2005 are likely to rise. He assured the audience that MAG was examining its legislative options in this and other contentious matters. “We value our relations with GAPI. I request you to join MAG and make your issues be heard, because with more than 6,000 members, MAG is the leading voice for physicians in Georgia.” he concluded.
Both guest speakers, Nathan Deal and Dr.Gary Richter were presented with plaques in recognition of their invaluable services by the outgoing GAPI President Santanu Das.
Former president of GAPI, and Chairman of the Trustees,
Dr.P.Natarajan,recognized the Board of Trustees members present in the Hall. He lauded outgoing President Dr. Santanu Das and his Committee, for an outstanding job during their term.
Past President of GAPI, Dr.P.B.Rao said that GAPI helps deserving students with merit and need-based scholarships. The annual scholarship of $1,000 and a Citation of Excellence for their accomplishments, was given to six students. Two being Merit based Awards to Varun katdare and Sagar Patel respectively. The other four Awards were given to Keyur Patel; Jill Mody; Shivani Mehta and Rabeea Khan
GAPI Secretary, Dr.Dilip Patel said that in accordance with the GAPI bye-laws, the Board had received nominations from the General membership as below:
Dr.Dilip Patel for President-Elect, Dr.Abhishek Gaur for Secretary, Dr Piyush Patel as Treasurer. With a show of hands, the attendees unanimously approved the new Executive Committee members.
GAPI Executive committee recognized Narsi Narasimhan (GIACC) for helping bring GAPI and GIACC closer and for his immense help in numerous ways, especially for his pro bono help in setting up GAPI’s website. Drs PK Natarajan, Arepally Rao, Manoj Shah, Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, Sujatha Reddy, Naresh Parikh, Uday Tata, Pravin Patel, Piyush Patel and others were recognized for their services to GAPI.
At the Regional Meeting in Atlanta, 35 new life members were brought in, thanks to Dr.Sreeni Gangasani’s efforts.
Incoming president Dr.Sreeni Gangasani is a well known and respected cardiologist with Cardiovascular Group, PC in Gwinnett County. With his leadership qualities, compassion, volunteerism and ‘Can do’ spirit, GAPI will forge ahead. Dr.Gangasani said that he felt honored and humbled to accept the post of GAPI President, and promised to do his best in helming GAPI. He lauded the outgoing President Dr.Santanu Das for his hard work, determination, and drive. He thanked all the past and current members of the Board of Trustees, Board of directors for their hard work they put in over the years and the sponsors for their support. He informed the gathering of the new website and said he would like to make it more interactive for members. He exhorted young physicians to join GAPI and play an active role in it. He welcomed new members of his team, and added that he would strive to organize more health fairs in different parts of Georgia and strengthen the ties with organizations like GIACC, Vibha and Sewa International.
After a delectable dinner catered by Café Bombay, members were treated to rib-tickling standup comedy by ever popular Indian-American comedian Tushar Singh and a medley of Bollywood songs by GAPI members and extra hot DJs.