by Devin Miller • Washington Correspondent
From the moment the 115th Congress took office
in January and lawmakers began deliberating how to
repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Academy
has been leading the charge in Washington to protect
children’s access to health care.
At press time, new federal legislators were being
sworn into office, with speculation still surrounding the
timeline and process for ACA repeal and replacement.
The week new members of Congress were sworn in,
the Academy sent a letter to Congress urging them
to protect the needs of children while considering
any changes to the ACA, reminding leaders that children are not little adults and have unique health care
needs. The letter outlined essential elements in the
ACA that the Academy believes any major changes
to health reform must maintain or improve upon:
• Access to pediatric care, including access to pediatric providers and pediatric subspecialists.
• Pediatric appropriate benefits, including preven-
tive care and essential health benefits.
• Insurance coverage for children and families,
including insurance market reforms, dependent
coverage to age 26, affordable coverage, Medicaid
expansion and other innovations.
“We encourage Congress to build on its record
of improving children’s coverage and provide long-
term health care stability for children,” said AAP
President Fernando Stein, M.D., FAAP, in the let-
ter. “The Academy supports proposals that invest in
child health and move towards achieving the goal of
ensuring that all children have health care coverage
that meets their unique needs.”
The Academy also joined the American Academy
of Family Physicians, the American College of Phy-
sicians and the American Congress of Obstetricians
and Gynecologists in sending a letter to Congress,
urging federal leaders to protect patients’ access to
care, as well as a broader coalition of children’s health
groups whose message to lawmakers focused on the
need for any health reforms to build on progress
improving children’s access to health coverage.
No matter the outcome of the ACA repeal process,
the Academy will be working with lawmakers, their
staffs and various coalitions to protect children’s access to affordable, quality health coverage and to
maintain the progress made to date.
In fact, AAP chapter leaders from every state will
travel to Washington this month to urge their members of Congress to prioritize children in their poli-cymaking, especially as they approach issues related
to children’s access to health care. The momentum
behind these efforts will be maintained when more
than 100 pediatricians come to the nation’s capital
for the AAP Legislative Conference in April. Visit
www.aap.org/legcon for more information about the
conference and to register.
To receive federal advocacy communications with
the latest news from Washington, email kids1st@
AAP leads efforts to protect children’s access to health care
Before adjourning, the 114th Congress was unable to
pass legislation regarding two AAP advocacy priorities:
child nutrition reauthorization and child welfare reform.
Programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition
Program for Women, Infants and Children, the school
meals program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the summer feeding program will continue
to operate as Congress continues to fund them.
Unfortunately, Congress is unlikely to take up child
nutrition reauthorization this year as work will begin
on the Farm Bill, which reauthorizes the Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As these conversations begin, the Academy will be advocating to
maintain the current structure of the program, improve
the program’s benefits, reduce barriers to enrollment and
protect the scientific integrity of nutrition standards
Child welfare reform
Funding for the child welfare system will continue
to go to the states, with disproportionate emphasis on
funding foster care over services that help keep families
Although the AAP-supported Family First Prevention
Services Act did not pass in the 114th Congress, there
may be opportunities to revisit its policies as discussions
of other health and social issues arise on the legislative
agenda. The Academy will continue advocating for
policies that support families and prevent the need for
To be notified of advocacy opportunities regarding
SNAP or on behalf of children in the welfare system,
email firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate your interest in one
or both of the issues.
What happens next?
From legislation to implementation: 21st Century Cures
While advocacy is most often thought of during the process of drafting and passing legislation, the
Academy also works with the federal agencies that implement a bill after it becomes law to ensure it
is working for children and families as intended.
The Academy will be working on implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed
into law in the 114th Congress.
Under the new law, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is required to track and report on the
number of children enrolled in clinical trials. Although the agency has had a formal policy since 1998
requiring the inclusion of children in trials, it has failed to track and publish data on the numbers of
children actually enrolled.
The Academy long advocated for NIH to collect this information. The data are needed to ensure
that children are benefiting from important scientific and medical advancements so that pediatricians
can better understand chronic childhood diseases and how they persist into adulthood.
The NIH has six months from the law’s enactment to host a workshop on the issue. As the leading
champion of this issue, the Academy will be working with the agency to ensure swift implementation
so that children’s health can benefit from this provision of the law as soon as possible.
Advocacy challenge: Get
to know your legislators
A new Congress means new leaders
representing states and districts across
the country, including new senators
and representatives for you to get to
To find out who your elected officials are, log into http://federaladvoca
cy.aap.org and type your ZIP code into
the box “Find your elected officials”
on the right side of the screen. You
also can search for your elected officials
by visiting www.House.gov and www.
Most federal legislators are on Twit-
ter. Be sure to follow them for the lat-
est news from their offices.
AAP Immediate Past President Benard P. Dreyer,
M.D., FAAP, speaks at a press conference with U.S.
Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A., following the release of E-Cigarette Use Among Youth
and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General.
Dr. Dreyer, surgeon general
warn of e-cigarette use