In an editorial last week, the Wall Street Journal highlighted America’s immigrant talent. The Journal reminded us that “immigration spawns innovation”. The recent Regeneron Science Talent Search—also referred to as the Junior Nobel Prize– demonstrated that the ranks of prodigies are increasingly dominated by progeny of immigrants.
I am also an immigrant, who landed on American shores (JFK airport more accurately) 26 years ago with a medical degree and $20 in my pocket. Over the years, I have cared for patients in the inner city, rural towns, and suburban America . Along the way have been directly responsible for about a dozen native-born Americans’ jobs, and perhaps indirectly responsible for several hundred more. My life’s example to President Trump is that legal immigrants bring new jobs to America. Since he has promised to be a jobs President, I suggest he keep this fact in mind. From a medical perspective, a recent study reported that Medicare patients treated in a hospital had a significantly lower 30-day mortality when cared for by physicians with international medical degrees as compared to US graduates.
While looking at the WSJ piece, I was quickly reminded of four outstanding individuals with similar immigrant roots to those in the science competition, who are on the verge of potentially setting America on a new course. These four people are Seema Verma, Administrator, Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Ajit Pai, Chairman of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Neel Kashkari, President of the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis.
As physicians, why should we know these people, and how can they change the course of our nation? CMS, of course, plays a huge role in our profession. Ms. Verma is poised to do several brilliant things – bring common sense and logic to CMS, offer new hope to practicing physicians, recreate a level playing field, and most importantly bring the patient-physician relationship back to the center of healthcare. We know she has the right skills, temperament, and experience to get these things done.
Similarly, Ms. Haley can bring a fresh approach to our dealing with the UN, which she has already demonstrated on her first day at her new job. I hope she will live up to these words which she ended her speech with “this is a time of fresh eyes, new strength, new vision and a great day”. I would like to see Ms. Haley re-educate our President on how to effectively deal with the UN and its cronyism, while strengthening our relationship with our allies.
Ajit Pai at the FCC, according to this article in Variety is on a mission to deregulate, and trust the markets to bring the best innovation to customers. We hope he can demonstrate the futility of over-regulation and at the same time hold media conglomerates responsible for their follies.
Finally, Neel Kashkari, is a unique voice at the Minneapolis Fed. He was once the main official in charge of administering the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in 2008, which I was against. But I’ve been told by people who know a lot more about the financial system than I, that it was a good program (if there was ever a good government program!). However, as Minneapolis Fed Chief, Mr. Kashkari has come out strongly against Too Big To Fail (TBTF) as he wrote here. I don’t pretend to understand this document well, but I’m glad someone with the right background and experience is looking intently at minimizing the chances of another bailout because of TBTF.
Overall, I see these 40-somethings, kids of Indian immigrants as potentially altering the course of our nation, hopefully for the better, which will once again demonstrate that we can care for our sick and elderly, build great relations with other nations, while allowing free enterprise capitalism to become the engine of growth once again, and codify our regulatory system to minimize the need for taxpayers to bail out big corporations in the future – in other words realize the vision of the nation’s Founding Fathers. Therefore, I ask President Trump to support these proven leaders but caution him to avoid being seen as an anti-immigrant President, even if it means going against some of his intimate advisors. I hope my confidence in President Trump will be proven correct. It behooves us as physicians to focus on these important issues of our time.
Photo by 3illipyt