An influential group of Indian American doctors has sought a say in the immigration reform bill, arguing that the pending legislation does not take into account the huge shortage of physicians in the US.
During their day-long meetings and hearings at the Capitol Hill wherein they met lawmakers and the Congressional aides, American Association of Physicians of Indian-origin (AAPI) leadership said given that Indian-American doctors see every 7th patient in the US, their views on this crucial issue could no longer be ignored.
"Our statistics of seeing one in every seven patients demand a seat at the table of immigration reform. We are uniquely poised, of having unique experience of dealing of patients and areas where all resources are not available," AAPI president Dr Jayesh Shah said during the Capitol Hill Day that focused on immigration reform and health care reform.
Supporting the move to clear green card backlogs, Dr Sampat Shivangi, the AAPI Legislative Committee co-chairman, urged the lawmakers to include physicians in the list of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for given preference or priority in green card. As part of comprehensive immigration reform, foreign students graduating with degrees in STEM are eligible for green cards. This proposal enables highly-skilled workers to remain in the US after receiving their higher education in America, Shivangi said.
"Physicians graduating from accredited US residency programs should also receive similar treatment. Such a proposal would enable more physicians to be eligible for Green Cards and address the ongoing physician shortage," he said.
"These physicians would still be required to meet all US licensing standards before they could officially practice medicine. Hospitals and physician practices would be able to quickly hire qualified physicians who can make an immediate impact in local communities," Dr Shivangi said.
Such a move, officials said would benefit Indian physicians. "Once the STEM bill includes physicians category, that would clear the process of Indian American physicians,"Dr Shivangi said.
The AAPI meeting was addressed by several top American Congressmen including Ed Royce, Joe Crowley, Joe Wilson, Ami Bera and Frank Pallone.
Speaking on the occasion, the lawmakers assured the Indian-American physicians to introduce necessary amendments in the current legislation to address their concerns.
Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he is in favour of skilled and education-based immigration.
"I am a big fan for immigration which is education and skill based. Move towards unskilled based in not good for the country. You need to