Pediatric Day at the 2009 General Assembly

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Pediatric Day at the 2009 General Assembly

Once again, child advocates came together in Richmond, during the General Assembly session on January 29, 2009, to meet with their legislators about children's health issues. Over 40 child advocates including pediatricians, lawyers, law students, nursing students, and medical students met to learn about the issues under consideration in the General Assembly this year. Sponsored by the VA Chapter AAP and the MSV, this annual event brings experienced and new child advocates together to speak up for children's health.

The morning started with an introduction to the legislative process and how to meet with legislators. Dr. Kate Schrecengost, senior pediatric resident at UVA, talked with participants about her experiences meeting with state and federal legislators and what to expect when they met with their legislators. Dr. Colleen Kraft (immediate past president, VA Chapter, AAP), Dr. Sam Bartle (Chair, Government Affairs Committee, VA Chapter, AAP), and Dr. Robert Gunther (President, VA Chapter, AAP) presented an overview of the legislation under consideration this session. Dr. Karen Remley, Virginia Health Commissioner (and pediatrician), also attended and spoke to participants about the importance of speaking up for children in the state legislative process.

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Dr. Karen Remley
VA Health Commissioner

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Dr. Robert Gunther, Dr. Sam Bartle

2009_GA_observing.jpgBy midmorning, everyone was ready to walk up the hill to the General Assembly Building to meet face to face with their legislators.

The main issues under consideration this year included proposed smoking bans, insurance benefits for children with autism, medicaid reimbursement, and mental health resources for children. Participants had scheduled visits with more than 30 legislative offices.

2009_GA_converge.jpgThe Senate Committee for Education and Health was in session, and the committee room was filled with white-coated pediatricians and child advocates as many participants were able to attend while the committee considered issues related to autism and smoking. Participants split into teams and paid visits to their state legislators.

2009_GA_northam.jpgThe day ended with a debriefing lunch sponsored by the Medical Society of Virginia and led by Karin Addison, VA Chapter, AAP lobbyist. Plans are already underway for next year's General Assembly Day, tentatively planned for the 4th Thursday in January.