BY MAHADEV DESAI
The Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage (GAPI) held its Annual Meeting cum a glitzy banquet at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center, on Saturday, April 18. The event was attended by over 250 members from the medical field and graced by the presence of Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) President Todd Williamson, M.D.
Earlier in the day there was an excellent CME program about Malpractice issues, practice management and Financial management. This was attended by more than 50 physicians.
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, and charitable organizations.
Following the social hour, the outgoing President Pravin Patel introduced Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine. In his engaging and informative speech Oxendine said that he was proud of having the unique distinction of receiving American Medical Association’s highest award in the entire nation. (applause). Under him, the Insurance Commission has cracked down on HMOs and Health Care companies that delay in paying to hospitals and physicians. He firmly believes that for a patient to get good treatment the doctor needs to be promptly reimbursed by HMOs; insurance Cos;Medicare and Medicaid.(applause). He informed the audience of his intention to run for Governor(applause). He said he would like to improve quality of health care in rural Georgia through internet. California had largest tele-medicine network in the nation but it took them six years to get there, whereas Georgia did it in 18 months(applause). And now Georgia is leading all other States in tele-medicine network. As Governor, he would also like to expand the trauma network in Georgia. He agreed that Medicaid costs needed to be controlled. But instead of CMOs managing doctors and hospitals, he preferred managing of patients instead, and focusing on delivering quality healthcare to them, not by reducing payments to doctors but by controlling access to hospitals and by changing conduct and practices of Medicaid recipients.” I have been in this field for a long time and as long as I am in it I will always be a friend of doctors.” he concluded.(applause)
Following a glowing introduction by Dr.Sreeni Gangasani, MAG(Medical Association of Georgia) President Todd Williamson, in his brief but compelling talk, said that MAG is the largest physician Organization to represent all physicians and specialists in Georgia and that he felt very proud to represent it. He informed that MAG tried to address the issue of licensing of international medical graduates in Georgia but unfortunately did not succeed in reducing the three year residency period requirement. But MAG will not stop pursuing this, he assured the audience. There are parts of Georgia where 70% of patients seen by some physicians are Medicaid recipients. Medicaid wanted to reduce reimbursement by further 6% but MAG happily succeeded in stopping Medicaid from doing this.(applause).This year, MAG facilitated to get into ‘code’, into law, that the term ‘physician’ should apply to only those who have been to medical school and have a license to practice medicine.MAG is also working on fair reimbursement by insurance companies, for treating of out of network patients. MAG is also seeking funding for setting up more trauma centers in Georgia and is also trying to ensure that reimbursement payments for doctors are processed speedily. Williamson concluded by appealing to GAPI members to learn more about MAG and become MAG members as well.
Both guest speakers, Oxendine and Williamson were given plaques in recognition of their invaluable services, by Pravin Patel and Santanu Das.
Dr.Pravin Patel introduced Dr.Raj Gandhi, who has been instrumental in formation of GAPI. Dr.Raj Gandhi, a thoracic surgeon, who has been in practice in Atlanta for the past thirty years, has recently written a book, ‘Sense of direction. It needs to be restored:Part1 Healthcare’ The meticulously researched book on America’s healthcare crisis is published by Author House.Dr.Gandhi spoke briefly about his book and requested all to buy a copy, read it and if in agreement with his recommendations, forward it to either the US President or one of the senators in Washington,D.C., Georgia, etc.
Former past president of GAPI, and Chairman of the Trustees,Dr.P.Natrajan,recognized the Board of Trustees members present in the Hall. He requested all to attend the forthcoming Annual AAPI Convention in Orlando, from June 10 to 14,2009.He lauded outgoing President Pravin Patel and his Committee, for an outstanding job during their term.(applause)
Past President of GAPI, Dr.P.B.Rao conveyed the sad news about serious condition of one of the patron GAPI member, Dr.Daksha Chudgar,(wife of past President of GAPI,Dr.Bipin Chudgar). Dr.Rao said that the Chudgars are well known social activists and philanthropists, so it is befitting to dedicate the Scholarship Awards to Dr.Daksha Chudgar. GAPI has conducted outreach programs like Health Fairs and helped deserving students with scholarships. This year GAPI has the unique opportunity to help Bhutanese guests-people with refugee status that have lost everything and are trying to settle down in Georgia. He recognized 3 students and SEWA volunteers who were present and said that GAPI has donated 150 school bags and other supplies to help Bhutanese students(applause). GAPI also gives annual scholarship awards of $1,000 and a Certificate of Recognition for their accomplishments, to a few deserving students. John Oxendine graciously handed the Awards to Keyur Patel, Gaurav Bhatnagar,Rithika Rajesh,Shivani Mehta and Rabeea Khan
Dr.Pravin Patel said that in accordance with the GAPI bye-laws, the Board had received nominations from the General membership as below:
Dr.Sreeni Gangasani-President Elect;Dr.Dilip Patel-Secretary;and Dr.Abhishek Gaur-Treasurer. With a show of hands, the attendees unanimously approved the new Executive Committee members.
Reflecting on his term as President, Dr.Patel said that he had thoroughly enjoyed working as President, felt a sense of fulfillment beyond measure and thanked his team for its support and services. He recognized senior GAPI members like Dr.P. Natrajan; Dr.P.Rao;and Dr.Manoj Shah ,who despite their professional commitments gave long hours of selfless services to GAPI. He concluded by requesting non-members to join GAPI and play a proactive role in it.(applause)
The incoming President Dr.Santanu Das said that he felt honored and humbled to accept post of GAPI President, and promised to do his best in helming GAPI. He said he has served GAPI in various capacities since 1998 and enjoyed his fruitful association with it. He lauded Dr.Patel and his wife Sonal Patel for their hard work, focus, vision, determination, and drive, and presented a plaque to Dr.Patel as a token of appreciation by GAPI.”I would like to declare year 2009 as ‘Year of Young Physicians of Indian heritage’, and urge all young physicians to play an active role in GAPI. We will redesign our website to make it more interactive and informative. We will consider reviving Political Action Committee and name it Political Action and Awareness Committee.GAPI will continue with its philanthropic activities and helping students. With your support GAPI will continue to grow” he said.(applause)
In his Vote of Thanks, Dr.Gangasani thanked all the sponsors, guest speakers John Oxendine, and Todd Williamson, Board of Trustees, and Board of Directors, outgoing President Dr.Pravin Patel. Prizes were given to raffle winners Drs P. Natrajan, Mukesh Patel and Kishore Desai.
After a delectable dinner catered by Bombay Café, members were treated to rib-tickling standup comedy by ever popular Indian-American comedian Dan Nainan and a medley of Bollywood songs by live band ‘Manpasand Mumbai