2018 Pediatricians’ Day at the Capitol
Nearly 150 pediatricians and trainees gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 7 to advocate for stronger immunization laws, funding for mental health training and access, and other key issues.
The group was greeted with a warm welcome by Senator Matt Klein, MD (DFL-West Saint Paul/Mendota Heights) and Representative Ilhan Omar (DFL-Minneapolis).
“I’m glad to have pediatricians advocating at the Capitol,” Senator Klein said. “It’s very effective.”
Representative Omar thanked Minnesota’s pediatric community for its response to the measles epidemic and noted that more resources are needed for outreach and prevention. “It was fascinating to see how many of you were saddled up for that fight, ready to give out proper information for all of us to be equipped with the tools to help all of our communities…” she said.
After reviewing and discussing the chapter’s priority issues, attendees branched out to meet with their individual legislators. All together, they met with 45 representatives and 32 senators to discuss child health issues.
At the end of the afternoon, many gathered to debrief at a nearby establishment and were joined Senator Gregory Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley), co-author of a bill that would provide funding for the University of Minnesota to develop a clinical mental health training program for pediatric residents.
Check out attendee photos and remarks from #PedsDay2018 and continue to stay connected by reading the chapter’s bi-weekly legislative updates throughout the session.
Board Discussion with Senator Michell Benson
The MNAAP Board of Directors welcomed State Senator Michelle Benson (R – Ham Lake) to their February 7th meeting. Sen. Benson is the chair of the Senate’s Health & Human Services Finance & Policy Committee. In that role, she leads a committee with jurisdiction over a broad segment of health care issues and spending.
Sen. Benson began the visit with a brief preview of the 2018 legislative session, which began on February 20. The discussion with attendees covered a large number of health care issues, including the significant shortage of pediatric mental health services and beds, as well as shortages in dental coverage for children from low-income families. These shortages, all agreed, lead to poor health outcomes for many children.
Sen. Benson also spoke to the difficulties associated with the low reimbursement that public health insurance programs offer, particularly for those clinics and hospitals that serve a larger percentage of low-income patients.
The group also had a long discussion about Minnesota’s vaccination policies, as well as the 2017 measles outbreak that sickened almost 100 Minnesotans. Board members shared their concerns with Minnesota’s weak vaccination requirements, and spoke to the tremendous risks associated with vaccine-preventable diseases.
Attendees visited with Sen. Benson about how pediatricians work with vaccine-hesitant parents to address their fears about vaccines and provide medically accurate information. Board members stressed the MNAAP’s interest in being a partner and resource to legislators as they consider changes the state’s immunization laws.
Members Testify on Gun Control, Access to Care
In March, MNAAP President Andrew Kiragu, MD testified in support of a bill aimed at closing the “private seller” loophole (SF1261/HF1669).
Although federal law requires licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on prospective purchasers in all gun sales, it does not require unlicensed private sellers to do so. Approximately 40 percent of guns in America are purchased from private sellers.
Dr. Kiragu called on the legislature to take commonsense steps to keep children and their families safe from gun violence. In Minnesota, the federal background check system blocked 28,499 prohibited purchasers from buying guns between 1998 and 2014 — nearly 70 percent of those denied were convicted felons. Nineteen other states require a background check for all firearm sales.