WASHINGTON,D.C.—Rep. Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, lauded AAPI “for being in the forefront of so many of the things we need to do legislatively in Washington when he comes to health care.”
Pallone, who represents New Jersey’s 6th District, which he boasts has the largest population of Indian Americans in the country, addressed the participants at AAPI’s legislative conference on Capitol Hill held on April 30.
He said he was all-in on AAPI priorities on Graduate Medical Education residency slots and on raising the caps on H-1B and J-1 visas “because we have a huge workforce shortage.”
“Whenever I go to the AMA (American Medical Association) or I go to the specialty doctors’ groups, they all say, we are going to have a huge shortage in the next few years,” Pallone said. “And, a lot of that shortage has to come from either Americans educated overseas or foreign nationals that come here.”
The 15-term lawmaker, who was the founder and former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus of Indian and Indian Americans, said, that as much as he would rather prefer to see more Americans educated in the U.S. and more medical schools established, “the reality is that we have to take more people from abroad, just because of the numbers.”
But Pallone said he had no idea when these issues could be alleviated, “but we are certainly going to try.”
He argued that as far as GME’s are concerned, “obviously, we need more residencies because there’s no point in bringing more people from overseas if there are no residency programs that they have to go through, and we continued to rely on Medicare for that, which is limiting.”
“So, we have to find a way of doing it, which goes beyond Medicare. It’s a question of not only more medical school slots but residency slots, particularly with regard to primary care because that’s where the biggest shortages are.”
When he was introduced, Pallone also said he had to say something about his district in that “I always say, that I have a huge number of Indian Americans in my district, but I actually have a statistic now that says that in 2017, there were 353,000 Indians in New Jersey, which is the third highest (population of Indians) in the country.”
“One in 10 New Jerseyans are of Indian descent, but of those 120,000 Indian Americans live in my district,” he said.
When longtime Democratic and community activist Ramesh Kapur, who was also a member of the audience asked, “How many citizens,” Pallone to peals of laughter, shot back, “We are not talking about citizens –Indian Americans are citizens, or on their way.”