Who Gives Children a Voice?

Who Gives Children a Voice?

As incoming President of the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, I had the opportunity to attend a leadership meeting for Districts III and VI in Baltimore, Maryland. We kicked off the meeting with speeches from the 2 AAP President-elect candidates, Dr. Benard Dreyer and Dr. Joe Hagan. It’s clear there are a lot of challenges both children and pediatricians are facing. What was also palpable from the energy in the room: there are many AAP members and staff that are dedicated and passionate about giving both children and pediatricians a voice.

We don’t have the power to stamp out poverty. However, we can give a voice to those 16+ million children across the country who struggle every day to have a safe place to live and enough food to eat. There are incredible efforts being made by AAP members creating community partnerships to address some of these big challenges. On a larger level, joining with more than 60,000 other pediatricians allows us to collectively give children a voice. The AAP is THE most consistent, powerful, and effective voice for children.

As part of the 3 day leadership meeting, Mark DelMonte and the AAP DC office staff prepared us for visits to the nation’s capitol to do some important child advocacy work. We had AAP leaders from more than 15 states descend on Washington, DC, and split up to visit 3 of our Congressmen or Senators from our home states. The two issues we focused on for our visits:

  1. Renewing the Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program. The EMSC was established by Congress in 1984 and is the only federal program that focuses specifically on improving the pediatric components of the emergency medical system (EMS).
  2. Keeping Medicaid strong for children. The AAP is urging Congress to extend the 2013-2014 increase in Medicaid primary care payments. Medicaid provided coverage for 36 million children nationwide in 2012 which is 47% of the nation’s children. Children depend on Medicaid to work well and pediatricians depend on Medicaid to adequately finance care.

I don’t think politicians position themselves on a platform to disadvantage children. However, since children can’t vote, they are often forgotten in larger discussions. Collectively we must remind policy makers and other stakeholders to #PutKids1st.

The next time you ask yourself, “what is the AAP doing for me and my patients” remember, as a members of the American Academy of Pediatrics we ARE the AAP. The AAP has incredibly dedicated and talented staff but the majority of the vision and the work is done by volunteer pediatricians like you and me. Add your voice to more than 60,000 other pediatricians and speak up for your patients, your community, and our collective future. What you do and what you say matters more than you think.

If you aren’t sure where to start and how to become involved, feel free to reach out to me at skressly@www.officepracticum.com. Find something you are passionate about and get involved. Add your voice to those of the children we care for. If we work together, they will be heard.