one strong and united voice for children.”
The evening prior to their visits on Capitol Hill,
chapter leaders and members of the AAP Committee
on Federal Government Affairs (COFGA) convened
for a networking reception at the AAP Washington Of-
fice. The next morning, participants attended a training
where they heard from AAP leaders and legislative staff
about the importance of pediatrician advocacy and the
current state of play on issues related to children’s access
to health care.
“There is nobody who you will meet with today who
was not once a child,” AAP CEO/Executive Vice President Karen Remley, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., FAAP,
reassured the group before their meetings on Capitol
In the afternoon, chapter leaders and COFGA mem-
bers visited more than 150 congressional offices, and
about 30 of these meetings were with representatives
and senators. At the time, federal legislators were
deliberating on major changes to health reform.
Attendees had three main messages: keep Medicaid
strong, extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and preserve the Affordable Care
Act’s gains for children. They also were equipped
with new state fact sheets ( http://bit.ly/2mx2gCj)
showing how all three programs have worked together to bring the rate of children’s health insurance coverage in the United States to a historic high — 95%.
Sharon L. Swindell, M.D., FAAP, president-elect
of the AAP Michigan Chapter, was a guest of Sen.
Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) at President Donald
Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress. Dr.
Swindell participated in several media interviews
with the senator in advance, highlighting the importance of health care coverage to children in Michigan.
Reflecting on her experience, Dr. Swindell offered
advice to aspiring advocates. “Never underestimate
the power of your voice,” she said. “The lesson I
learned is that when you start advocating early on
in your career and continue to stay involved, you
can find yourself in the gallery for the State of the
Union address, taking part in ways you could have
In addition to the efforts in Washington, AAP
members took action from home, contacting their
members of Congress and sharing messages on social
media using #Docs4Coverage. On the day of the
fly-in, more than 1,000 tweets were shared using
#Docs4Coverage for a total of 2.3 million impressions
(the total number of times the hashtag appeared on
Chapter leaders who attended the fly-in had the opportunity to share what they learned with their own
state delegations during the AAP Annual Leadership
Forum in March. During the congressional recess in
April, they will build on the foundations set in Washington by attending in-district meetings with their
Janice L. Pelletier, M.D., FAAP, president of the
AAP Maine Chapter, said she looks forward to bringing what she learned back to pediatricians in her state
and AAP district.
“It felt so powerful to get together with everyone
in one room, with every state represented,” she said.
Ankoor Y. Shah, M.D., FAAP, vice president of the
AAP D.C. Chapter, called the experience invigorating.
“It was a reminder that we are all in this together and
a reminder of why we do what we do,” he said. “Kids
are a bipartisan issue.”
Sharon L. Swindell, M.D., FAAP, president-elect of the
AAP Michigan Chapter (left), was the guest of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) at President Trump’s address
to the joint session of Congress. Mona Hanna-Attisha,
M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, also attended the joint session as a
guest of Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.).
One way the Academy uses social
media is to amplify its voice on child
health advocacy priorities. For example, the Academy posted the tweet
on the right after sending a letter to
leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives opposing the American Health
Care Act. The bill, which would repeal
much of the Affordable Care Act and
make significant changes to Medicaid, was released
at press time.
In a span of less than 48 hours, the message was
retweeted more than 1,000 times, including interactions from pediatricians, members of the media,
partner organizations and legislators, making it one
of the Academy’s top social media posts in terms
of engagement. The tweet resulted in more than
150,000 impressions, which is the number of times
it appeared on Twitter news feeds, helping to further
amplify the Academy’s position on the bill.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Nicole M. Poppin-ga, M.D., FAAP, president of the AAP South Dakota
AAP amplifies advocacy messages on social media
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn., left) and Andrew W. Kiragu,
M.D., FAAP, president of the AAP Minnesota Chapter.
Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis., left) and Jeffrey W.
Britton, M.D., FAAP, president of the AAP Wisconsin