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Federal Advocacy

February 26, 2016

AAP Federal Affairs Update:

Attend the 2016 AAP Legislative Conference: Early Bird Discount Ends Next Week!

The early bird registration discount for the AAP Legislative Conference ends next week on March 2! Register today and join us on April 3-5, in Washington, DC, to ensure children have a voice on Capitol Hill.

Participants will have the opportunity to develop their advocacy skills through interactive workshops, hear firsthand from policy experts and leaders about child health priorities, network with advocates from across the country and go to Capitol Hill to urge Congress to support children’s health.

The 2016 conference is also piloting a new Pediatric Subspecialty Advocacy Track of specific legislative and skills building workshops uniquely focused on the interests and needs of pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists.

This year’s pilot will feature a group of participants from the AAP Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics who are joining the conference, but participation in the pilot is open to all pediatric subspecialty fellows and clinicians.

To apply for the track:

  1. register for the conference at aap.org/legcon, and
  2. email with your name, title, subspecialty to LegislativeConference@aap.org and indicate you interest in the  Pediatric Subspecialty Advocacy Track.

Visit the legislative conference website for more information on the conference, the track and how to register.

AAP Files Amicus Brief in Upcoming Supreme Court Cases on Contraception

The AAP filed an amicus brief last week with the U.S. Supreme Court in a series of cases challenging the contraceptive coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The brief argues that there is no discernable difference between a religious objection to contraception and a religious objection to vaccines. Both objections are to the same ACA provision that requires covering cost-free Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive care as well as cost-free coverage for any immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The AAP strongly opposes any religious exemptions that would result in children and adolescents not receiving crucial medical services, including contraception and immunizations.

Religiously affiliated nonprofits and closely held for-profit corporations may apply for an accommodation that would exempt them from the ACA’s requirement to directly provide contraceptive coverage to employees if doing so violates the employer’s religious beliefs. Instead, the accommodation would require the insurer to provide these services directly, as long as the employer notified the government in writing. The petitioners in these cases, however, argue that even the act of accepting the accommodation still violates their religious beliefs. Thus, the petitioners are seeking to be exempt from the entire contraceptive coverage requirement. Oral arguments in the case will be held on March 23.

Seen & Heard: Pediatricians Speak Up for Children in Washington

AAP president addresses current state of childhood poverty

Pictured left to right: AAP President Benard P. Dreyer, MD, FAAP, Shannon McGroder, PhD, program director for human services, National Governors Association, Amy New, assistant commissioner for rural economic development, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Beth Mattingly, PhD, director of research on vulnerable Families, University of New Hampshire, and Donald Warne, MD, MPH, chair, department of health, North Dakota State University.

On Tuesday, AAP President Benard P. Dreyer, MD, FAAP, spoke at a summit titled, “Opportunity for All: Building a Brighter Future for Rural Children.” The event was held at the National Association of Counties 2016 Legislative Conference in coordination with the White House Rural Council and the National Governors Association. In his remarks, Dr. Dreyer spoke about the current state of child poverty in America, noting the health effects of child poverty and previewing AAP’s upcoming policy statement on poverty. Dr. Dreyer also discussed the role of federal safety net programs in reducing poverty and combatting its effect, including those that provide health care, early education, child care, affordable housing and home visiting, as well as critical nutrition assistance programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program from Women, Infants and Children, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and school meals.

Pediatricians discuss the effects of lead poisoning in children

On Thursday, Jennifer Lowry, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on Environmental Health, spoke on behalf of the Academy in a briefing to discuss the effects of lead poisoning, particularly with regard to what occurred in Flint, Mich., sponsored by House Education & Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.). Dr. Lowry discussed the history of lead exposure, the various ways in which children can be exposed to lead and the effects of lead poisoning on early childhood development. Also participating in the briefing was Sean Palfrey, MD, FAAP, on behalf of Reach Out and Read. Dr. Palfrey discussed the early childhood interventions that can help mitigate the effects of lead exposure, such as early literacy, Head Start and quality child care.

Mental Health Update

This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee announced that it will mark up a broad, bipartisan mental health and substance abuse bill on March 16. Although the legislation has not yet been introduced, it is expected to contain provisions from several mental health bills pending in the Senate.

On Thursday, the AAP offered support for the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 (S. 1945) introduced by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). In a letter of support on behalf of the Academy, Dr. Dreyer discussed the important role primary care pediatricians and pediatric medical subspecialists play in behavioral health screening and services for children and adolescents. S. 1945 contains an AAP-championed provision that provides grant funding to create or expand state child psychiatry access programs as well as several provisions aimed at early identification and intervention.

Congress Holds Committee Hearings to Discuss Zika Virus

On Tuesday, the Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on the Zika virus with the intent to help Congress and the public gain a better understand of the virus. Witnesses included high-level administration officials from CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services who answered several questions from the committee about the risk of traveling, issuing travel guidance, the propensity for the disease to affect the United States and the status of vaccine development. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) also quoted the AAP’s new medical countermeasures in children policy statement at the hearing.

On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also held a hearing on Zika, which was similar to that of the Senate, but also included a dialogue about efforts to prevent transmission around the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.

AAP-Supported Nominee Confirmed by Senate as Next FDA Commissioner

On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s nominee, Robert Califf, MD, to be the next commissioner of the FDA by a vote of 89-4. The AAP strongly supported Dr. Califf’s nomination for the post, which came more than five months ago. Since last January, Dr. Califf, a cardiologist by training, has served as the deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco at the agency, and previously served as a prominent cardiologist at Duke University, where he founded and directed the Duke Clinical Research Institute. Dr. Califf has been widely touted for his wide-ranging experiences with clinical drug trials and translational research. The AAP had sent a letter to Senate leadership supporting his confirmation amid misguided criticism directed at Dr. Califf over the FDA’s approval of pediatric labeling for the drug OxyContin. Following his confirmation, Dr. Califf placed a phone call to AAP CEO and Executive Director Dr. Karen Remley thanking the Academy for its support and commitment to child health.

Spread the Word: Be a Social Media Advocate

#ObamaAndKids takes Twitter by storm

Inspired by a moving photo of President Obama touching the face of a young boy taken by White House photographer Pete Souza, activist and entrepreneur Michael Skolnik started an online movement on Saturday that encourages people to share their favorite photos of President Obama with children using #ObamaAndKids. So far, the movement has generated hundreds of photos and messages that not only showcase Obama’s knack for connecting with kids, but also highlight how his presidency may influence the next generation of voters. Click here to see some of the photos shared across the last week. Do you have photos or comments about #ObamaAndKids? Tweet using the hashtag to join the conversation.

DC Defined

Beltway buzzwords, legislative lingo, judicial jargon… call it what you will, but there is no doubt that Washington has its very own vocabulary that makes it easy to get lost in acronym-filled sentences or inside-beltway references.

This week’s definition…

Super Tuesday: During a presidential election year, “Super Tuesday” refers to the Tuesday in February or March when the greatest number of states hold their primaries and caucuses. This year, Super Tuesday is March 1. Check out this calendar from The New York Times for the complete list of upcoming state primaries and caucuses and previous results.

What We’re Reading

  • In the Boston Globe: A letter to the editor from Dr. Dreyer, “In OxyContin decision, FDA provides key guidance to serve a need in treating children” and a letter to the editor from Mark Hudak, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Child Health Financing, “Pediatric drug labeling is vital to better care”
  • New resources from Connecting Kids to Coverage National Campaign promoting year-round enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • An op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Kenneth Haller, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP Missouri chapter, “What every child needs: Addressing toxic stress”


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