The beginning weeks and months of a new year often give way to moments of reflection and preparation. I have taken a moment to look back on 2018. With abundant optimism, I am recalibrating for upcoming opportunities and challenges ahead in 2019. At our last meeting of 2018, the MNAAP board members reviewed the 2019 legislative priorities. These priorities include reducing vaccine-preventable disease, promoting pediatric mental health services and expanding health care access. The board had a more specific and robust discussion as we talked about Minnesota’s provider tax, which will expire on Jan. 1, 2020, per legislation enacted in 2011. The revenue from this tax is deposited into the Health Care Access Fund, which supports insurance for lower-income Minnesotans. In a nutshell, if the provider tax expires, many of our patients and families who are just barely getting by will lose their health insurance. After our discussion, the board members upheld that unless there is a viable alternative to replace this source of revenue, the chapter will advocate for repealing the sunset of the provider tax. Looking back, it is clear the chapter and foundation were busy in 2018. Recently, we submitted our annual report to AAP, which contains detailed descriptions of advocacy efforts, education, and grant projects.
Here are a few outcomes from 2018 that made me particularly proud:
Trainings educated 235 people about addressing poverty and disparities in the clinic through webinars and in-person meetings.
Our chapter was asked to provide testimony in support of gun safety legislation and over 40 pediatricians participated in gun violence rallies and meetings over the year.
A quality improvement project at two Minnesota clinics increased up-to-date HPV immunization status for about 400 patients, from 9 percent to 74 percent.
Dovetailing into an opportunity for advocacy, I invite you to attend the upcoming Pediatricians’ Day at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 6. This is an energy-infused activity where community pediatricians, residents, and medical students have a unique opportunity to learn more about health issues that impact the children of Minnesota. You can speak up and address priority topics with your legislator. Let’s join together and #PutKidsFirst.
Lori DeFrance, MD, FAAP