Legislative, September 2015

The Committee has been active at the Federal, and State and County level advocating for pediatric healthcare issues.

At the federal level, district meetings were held on September 10, 2015 to follow-up on six major legislative issues/bills supported by the national American Academy of Pediatrics for which the chapter authored letters of support. House Resolution 1462, the “Protecting Our Infants Act,” aimed to increase funding and direct federal institutions to create a national standard for the treatment of neonatal abstinence syndrome. The bill passed the House of Representatives on September 9th and the chapter helped obtain co-sponsorship by Reps. Grace Meng and Steve Israel. A letter of support for the Child Liquid Nicotine Poisoning Act (HR 3342), which would mandate child-proof packaging on liquid nicotine products is now co-sponsored by Rep. Kathy Rice after her staff received our letter earlier this month. House Resolution 1552, the “Preserving Antibiotic Treatment in Medicine Act (PAMTA) would help reduce the emergence of antibiotic resistance partially by increasing funding for antibiotic stewardship programs. After receiving our letter this summer and speaking with Anthony Lemma, her district staff chair, Rep. Meng is a now a co-sponsor of this bill. A bill titled, “Bringing Post-Partum Depression Out of the Shadows,” (HR 3235), would nationally grant pediatricians the ability to expand the scope of practice to include screening for post-partum depression – thus allowing our colleagues across the country the same privileges we have in New York for combating this condition. To date, we have no local co-sponsors for this legislation. Finally, HR 1859, the “Ensuring Children’s Access to Subspecialty Care,” would allow pediatric subspecialists to enroll in the Federal National Health Service Corps debt-relief program and is co-sponsored by Rep. King. At all meetings we discussed the need for funding the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, whose budget is threatened this legislative season.

Washington D.C. based meetings at these offices are in the process of being scheduled for Tuesday, October 27th in conjunction with the National Conference and Exhibition, “White Coat Rally” for children on the steps of the Capitol. Any chapter members who are attending are encouraged to contact the office and we will facilitate a legislative meeting. I will also be meeting with Denzel Singletary of Sen. Gillibrand’s office to discuss support for the neonatal abstinence bill given House passage.  As the chapter re-designs and expands web content, copies of all letters to legislators are being readied for posting on the website so they can be easily accessed as templates by other chapter members.  Finally, Dr. Shah was awarded a Leonard Rome CATCH Visiting Professorship in Advocacy to the University of Arkansas to take place later this year.

At the state level, the committee’s resolution on mandating insurance coverage for donor breast milk in the NICU (endorsed by the District and the Section on Breastfeeding Medicine) passed the Annual Leadership Forum last March but did not advance in the state legislature. Meetings with local state legislators to outline the state AAP Agenda, including this bill will be scheduled for October/November after the agenda is outlined by the State Advocacy Committee on its conference call later this month.

At the county level, an Opinion-Editorial on the need to raise the age for tobacco sales to 21 years was published by CNN.COM in the late spring. In hopes of advancing the legislation in Nassau County (the only county which does not have it), we are hoping to arrange a ½ day of advocacy in Mineola. I attended the summer meeting of the Nassau Pediatric Society and they are in support. However, scheduling a date has been difficult. The initial date, October 7th was abandoned because the county calendar scheduled budget talks that day. We have requested other possible dates from Legislator Jacobs and have yet to hear. After consultation with the Nassau County counsel, it was determined that the county has no authority to limit the age of retail-based clinics in the county as this is a state issue.

The Committee is actively seeking new members interested in advocacy, child health policy or advancing child health. Please contact me if interested.

Respectfully submitted,

Shetal I. Shah, MD, FAAP
Chair, Legislative Committee