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MNAAP Newsletter

Legislative Season Fizzles: Vetoes Follow

Eric Dick headshotBy Erick Dick, MNAAP Lobbyist

Much of the 2018 legislative session’s long hours assembling budget supplemental bills was largely for naught, as the session’s end saw the speedy veto of one of the session’s biggest prizes: a supplemental budget package.

The veto means none of the hundreds of policy and spending provisions included in the near-1,000 page document will become law. With the veto of this bill, as well as a tax conformity bill sought by all parties, the 2018 session will be remembered as among the least productive in recent memory.

The Governor cited the bill’s omission of penalties on opioid manufacturers, anemic protections for those who live in assisted living and nursing facilities, and insufficient support for emergency aid for school districts, as key reasons for the veto.

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Word from the President: Dr. Andrew Kiragu


Summer is just around the corner!

I write this letter with mixed emotions since it will be the last as your Chapter president. This summer I will be handing over the reins to Dr. Lori DeFrance.

Serving as your president has truly been one of the great honors of my life. Two years ago getting ready to embark on this journey, I would never have imagined the challenges that children and their families both in our state and across the country would be facing. As in the words of the poet Robert Burns, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” I quickly discovered that the challenges facing the children we serve are often fluid and often affected by the vagaries of the society we live in.

Our current political dispensation has meant ongoing threats to access to health care, challenges to immigrant populations, the loss of environmental protections that have implications for children and growing disparities in health and educational outcomes. Together, however, we have confronted these challenges on behalf of our patients and their families.

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Communicating with Legislators to #PutKidsFirst

2018 Pediatricians’ Day at the Capitol
Nearly 150 pediatricians and trainees gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday, March 7 to advocate for stronger immunization laws, funding for mental health training and access, and other key issues.

The group was greeted with a warm welcome by Senator Matt Klein, MD (DFL-West Saint Paul/Mendota Heights) and Representative Ilhan Omar (DFL-Minneapolis).

“I’m glad to have pediatricians advocating at the Capitol,” Senator Klein said. “It’s very effective.”

Representative Omar thanked Minnesota’s pediatric community for its response to the measles epidemic and noted that more resources are needed for outreach and prevention. “It was fascinating to see how many of you were saddled up for that fight, ready to give out proper information for all of us to be equipped with the tools to help all of our communities…” she said.

After reviewing and discussing the chapter’s priority issues, attendees branched out to meet with their individual legislators. All together, they met with 45 representatives and 32 senators to discuss child health issues.

At the end of the afternoon, many gathered to debrief at a nearby establishment and were joined Senator Gregory Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley), co-author of a bill that would provide funding for the University of Minnesota to develop a clinical mental health training program for pediatric residents.

Check out attendee photos and remarks from #PedsDay2018 and continue to stay connected by reading the chapter’s bi-weekly legislative updates throughout the session.

Board Discussion with Senator Michell Benson
The MNAAP Board of Directors welcomed State Senator Michelle Benson (R – Ham Lake) to their February 7th meeting. Sen. Benson is the chair of the Senate’s Health & Human Services Finance & Policy Committee. In that role, she leads a committee with jurisdiction over a broad segment of health care issues and spending.

Sen. Benson began the visit with a brief preview of the 2018 legislative session, which began on February 20. The discussion with attendees covered a large number of health care issues, including the significant shortage of pediatric mental health services and beds, as well as shortages in dental coverage for children from low-income families. These shortages, all agreed, lead to poor health outcomes for many children.

Sen. Benson also spoke to the difficulties associated with the low reimbursement that public health insurance programs offer, particularly for those clinics and hospitals that serve a larger percentage of low-income patients.

The group also had a long discussion about Minnesota’s vaccination policies, as well as the 2017 measles outbreak that sickened almost 100 Minnesotans. Board members shared their concerns with Minnesota’s weak vaccination requirements, and spoke to the tremendous risks associated with vaccine-preventable diseases.

Attendees visited with Sen. Benson about how pediatricians work with vaccine-hesitant parents to address their fears about vaccines and provide medically accurate information. Board members stressed the MNAAP’s interest in being a partner and resource to legislators as they consider changes the state’s immunization laws.

Members Testify on Gun Control, Access to Care
In March, MNAAP President Andrew Kiragu, MD testified in support of a bill aimed at closing the “private seller” loophole (SF1261/HF1669).

Although federal law requires licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on prospective purchasers in all gun sales, it does not require unlicensed private sellers to do so. Approximately 40 percent of guns in America are purchased from private sellers.

Dr. Kiragu called on the legislature to take commonsense steps to keep children and their families safe from gun violence. In Minnesota, the federal background check system blocked 28,499 prohibited purchasers from buying guns between 1998 and 2014 — nearly 70 percent of those denied were convicted felons. Nineteen other states require a background check for all firearm sales.


Promoting Adolescent Health: Partnerships Between Pediatricians, Parents and Adolescents

ReneeSieving AnnieMcReeBy Renee Sieving PhD, RN, FAAN, FSAHM & Annie-Laurie McRee DrPH, University of Minnesota

Guidelines from the AAP and other professional organizations highlight provision of confidential care and time alone with a clinician as critical elements of adolescent preventive services. However, recent research highlights a gap between professional guidelines around confidential services and practice.

A nationwide study with parents of teens found that of adolescents who had a clinic visit in the past year, only 30 percent reported time alone with their health care provider. In another study examining confidential services and private teen-clinician discussions, adolescents, parents, and clinicians all expressed strong support for confidential adolescent services but also voiced ambivalent attitudes about these services. This ambivalence often reflected the desire to promote adolescents’ independence as health care consumers, while also wanting to continue to protect them from harm. Our current research–involving Minnesota-based clinicians, parents and teens—explores the balance between confidential services and parent engagement.

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March for Our Lives: March 24, 2018

By Sheldon Berkowitz, MD, FAAP, Children’s Minnesota 

On a cold and windy March morning, about 20 pediatricians and pediatric residents joined with 20,000 other Minnesotans to rally against gun violence at the Capitol in the aftermath of the senseless deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida six weeks earlier. This was the 30th mass shooting of 2018.

Tragically, 424 children aged 0-17 have been killed or injured by a firearm so far this year. Many of us carried signs with ”Pediatricians Against Gun Violence” and received a lot of positive support for this signage.

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