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Mar 18, 2011
March 18, 2011The Honorable Andrew CuomoGovernorState of New YorkState CapitolExecutive ChamberAlbany, NY 12224Dear Governor Cuomo,On behalf of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), I am writing to thank you for your courageous proposal to establish a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages as part of your efforts to reform New York State's health care system.At least 26 states maintain caps on non-economic damages, and New York State's embrace of such caps will mean a future operating environment that favors both physicians and patients. Doctors today face an untenable climate in their endeavor to practice medicine. On one hand, we face shrinking reimbursements from government health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid while seeing a simultaneous increase in such patients covered under these programs. On the other hand, we face an aggressive trial lawyer bar that uses litigation against physicians to force large financial settlements. This threat of litigation creates the practice of defensive medicine, ultimately raising the cost of health care to American public and contributes to skyrocketing medical malpractice insurance premiums.Compounded to this unfortunate situation is the lack of action by Congress to address the current physician shortage by increasing the number of residency positions to train more doctors. This means physicians today have to treat more patients in high-pressure environments while facing rising insurance premiums and the constant presence of litigation and the concomitant effect it has on a medical practice and doctor's reputation.Meanwhile, the vast majority of medical liability claims are closed without any payment to the plaintiff, and in the small percentage that do go to trial, physicians prevail the majority of the time but incur steep legal costs in doing so.There may come a breaking point in the not-too-distant future when American physicians simply walk away from the practice of medicine and advise the next generation of future doctors to do the same. We simply cannot afford to let that happen.In the days ahead, I am sure you will face enormous pressure from special interests that seek to maintain the status quo. I urge you to reject their demands and instead create a new path forward for New York's physicians and the patients they treat, by supporting a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, which will ultimately lower health care and insurance costs and improve access to health care for millions of New York State residents.Thank you once again for your courage and leadership on this important issue. Please know that thousands of Indian American physicians and AAPI members in the state of New York support your efforts in this regard.Yours truly,Ajeet R. Singhvi, MD, FACGPresident