The APS and SPR are members of the Pediatric Policy Council (PPC) which actively advocates for children and academic pediatrics at the federal level. APS representatives to the PPC are Drs. DeWayne Pursley and Jonathan M. Davis; Drs. Joyce Javier and Shetal Shah represent the SPR.
The PPC also includes representatives from the Academic Pediatric Association (APA) and the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs (AMSPDC). The PPC is based in the Washington DC office of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), who supplies staff and other support.
The latest advocacy developments are summarized by the PPC below
PPC CAPITOL CONNECTION
August 11, 2020
What Matters Now in Washington:
Uncertainty over school reopening pervades as new school year nears. More…
Congressional and White House negotiators have failed to clinch a deal on a new round of COVID relief, allowing enhanced unemployment insurance benefits to expire for millions. More…
With the 2020 Census moving into a critical stage, advocates are worried about efforts that may undermine its accuracy. More…
Federal officials have implemented a binary choice policy for immigrant families in federal detention centers that amounts to a new type of family separation. More…
PPC members authored policy commentaries in Pediatric Research exploring the intersections of child health policy, advocacy, and pediatric research. More…
As New School Year Approaches, School Reopening Debate Rages On. The end of in-person learning in March marked the conclusion of the normal educational experience for students nationwide, as schools canceled in-person classes while COVID-19 spread rapidly. With the back-to-school season for a new school year fast approaching, however, there is no strong consensus on how to safely resume in-person learning.
Pediatricians have played a leading role in the school reopening debate as public officials and parents seek out child health expertise in understanding what is and is not safe for children and families. The AAP released guidance calling for policymakers to keep the goal of in-person learning top of mind given the many well documented benefits of school for young people. However, the guidance also emphasized in great detail the importance of reopening schools safely, taking into account local spread of the virus and other public health considerations. In a July 7 meeting at the White House, AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP, reiterated the Academy’s stance on the importance of returning to in-person learning safely and urged the White House to provide the funding schools need to do it.
The nuance was quickly lost in the public debate, however, with advocates for a quick resumption of full in-person learning, including top Trump administration officials, citing the AAP’s guidance to call for withholding federal funds from schools that fail to reopen in full from the beginning of the academic year.
In response, the AAP issued a statement with teachers unions and school superintendents emphasizing the importance of evidence-based decision making that prioritizes the safety of students, teachers, and staff. The child health community is also calling for a $200 billion federal investment in K-12 schools to help ensure they have the resources they need to reopen safely.
COVID Relief Package Negotiations Stall as Unemployment Benefits Expire. Looming deadlines have a way of breaking political stalemates in Washington, but the conventional wisdom has not held up in the negotiations for a new COVID relief package. Republicans and Democrats in Washington have been deadlocked over how much more money to pump into the economy following record spending in several prior rounds of bipartisan legislation to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. While House Democrats advanced their vision for the next round of legislation in May, a sweeping $3 trillion bill sending money to the states and individual Americans, Senate Republicans have been slower to coalesce around a proposal.
Despite the stalemate, child health advocates continue to push for needed resources to support the pediatric health care delivery system and supports for children and families. Top priorities include an increase in the federal contribution to state Medicaid programs, changes to vaccine payment and administration to support the ongoing immunization of children, and additional financial relief for pediatric practices. Additionally, advocates are making the case for increased investments in nutrition supports, education, child care, and other social supports for families.
Census Faces Headwinds to Accurate Count. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed major operational challenges in the administration of the 2020 Census. From conducting in-person enumeration to reach households who have not yet completed the Census to compiling and analyzing the data, the work of the decennial Census is an enormous and time-consuming undertaking. The disruption to everyday life caused by the pandemic has delayed key activities necessary to conducting an accurate count.
However, the deadlines for reporting key data, including the data used for apportioning seats in the House of Representatives among the states, are set in law, and initial data is due December 31. Census Bureau officials requested that Congress extend these deadlines by 4 months, but now reporting suggests that the White House has walked back that request and will push the agency to deliver the data on the existing timeline. Census Bureau officials have now announced they plan to end Census operations by September 30, a month earlier than planned. This has raised concerns among advocates about the potential that rushing Census operations poses to conducting an accurate count, including efforts to count all children.
PPC POLICY COMMENTARIES. Members of the PPC have authored commentaries detailing the policy implications of research published in Pediatric Research. You can read these PPC-authored commentaries online: