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January 15, 2019

The 2019 legislative session kicked off at noon on January 8, 2019. Thanks to a very strong showing by the DFL in the suburbs in the fall 2018 elections, the DFL gained control of the House of Representatives.  The DFL also maintained control of the governor’s office with former U.S. Rep. Tim Walz’s win, while the GOP held on to its single-seat majority in the state Senate.  The session’s biggest undertaking – crafting a biennial budget – will begin in earnest in the coming weeks.

With input from MNAAP committees, board members and leadership, and a comprehensive survey of MNAAP members, the MNAAP has selected four legislative priorities for the 2019 session. The four priorities include:

  • reducing gun violence
  • strengthening immunization laws
  • opposing the scheduled sunset of Minnesota’s provider tax
  • and advocating for increased access to behavioral health care.

This is a summary only. To receive full legislative updates on a biweekly basis, you must be a member of MNAAP. The emails provide additional details about legislative issues that are not posted on our website and are for members only.

December 20, 2018

The leadership of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP) will change in the new year, with a familiar face taking over as executive director.

Melissa DeBilzan, who formerly served as communications director for the chapter, was selected as the new executive director by the chapter’s board, effective January 1, 2019. She replaces Katherine Cairns, MPH, MBA who will continue to serve as the executive director of the chapter’s philanthropic arm, the Minnesota Academy of Pediatrics Foundation (MAPF).

Cairns, a seasoned health care consultant, joined the chapter as executive director in 2007. In addition to steadily growing the chapter’s membership, she initiated multiple grant-funded projects in partnership with pediatricians to help clinics improve pediatric immunization rates, mental health access, implement health care homes/medical homes, promoted use of bilingual Community Health Workers to improve pediatric care, support food insecurity screening, and other efforts.

DeBilzan joined MNAAP in 2009 as the communications director. Initially charged with overseeing the chapter’s quarterly publication and weekly member email, her responsibilities soon included member recruitment, engagement, education, and advocacy efforts. DeBilzan has staffed work groups and overseen grant initiatives aimed at addressing pediatric obesity, child abuse, poverty, and disparities. She is a graduate from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in journalism and lives in White Bear Lake with her husband and five children.

Bethany Venable has assumed the responsibilities of communications manager for MNAAP. Venable joins the chapter with more than a decade of communications experience in news, and non-profit public relations and marketing.

December 10, 2018

MNAAP is seeking more pediatricians and residents interested in answering Somali parent questions about immunizations during mosque visits taking place December through February. These sessions are usually 60-90 minutes and will have a Somali interpreter at the session. We are working with 20 imams and mosques to provide this education for parents and interested elders. If interested, please contact

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is seeking 1-2 pediatricians to provide ongoing feedback on issues related to Child & Teen Checkup, such as training, outreach and clinical supports needed. The committee, which also represents family practitioners, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, meets with staff from MDH and the Department of Human Services (DHS) about 4 times per year.

The time commitment is a two-hour meeting each quarter. A conference call option is available for those who cannot attend in person. The next meeting is January 16 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

If you are interested in more information, please email

November 29, 2018

The Governor’s office has approved a request from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP), the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) and the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) to proclaim January 2019 as Health Equity Month in Minnesota.

In addition to other activities, we are collaborating on a two-part health equity series. Mark your calendars and plan to join us via MMA’s Facebook page

  • January 22, 2019 (noon – 1 p.m.) – Addressing health disparities within the Native American community
  • February 20, 2019 (noon – 1 p.m.) – Structural racism and other barriers to health equity

These activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™

For more information, email

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