Atlanta, GA: For a patient to get good treatment, the doctor needs to be promptly reimbursed by HMOs, insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid, said John W. Oxendine, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner of Georgia, while addressing members of Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian heritage, (GAPI) in their annual meet held at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center, on April 18. John Oxendine and Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) president Todd Williamson, were the chief guests and keynote speakers. Dr. Praveen Patel, president of GAPI, introduced Oxendine to audience.

John Oxendine said that the Insurance Commission had cracked down on HMOs and healthcare companies that delayed in paying to hospitals and physicians. He said he would like to improve quality of healthcare 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. But now Georgia was leading all other states in tele-medicine network. Oxendine, who intends to run for Governor of Georgia, would 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, 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.

Todd Williamson exhorted GAPI members to join MAG. He said MAG was the largest physician organization to represent all physicians and specialists in Georgia. 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 would not stop pursuing this, he assured the physicians. "There are parts of Georgia where 70 percent of patients seen by some physicians are Medicaid recipients. Medicaid wanted to reduce reimbursement by further 6 percent, but MAG happily succeeded in stopping Medicaid from doing so. This year, MAG facilitated to get the '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," he said.

Earlier, Dr. Sreeni Gangasani, secretary of GAPI, introduced the MAG president.

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