View From Washington

By Brent Ewig, MHA
Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs, AMCHP

The theme of this issue is fatherhood. It’s something I can relate to wholeheartedly as last fall I became a father for the first time. On October 15 – which happens to also be my birthday – my wife delivered the best present ever, a beautiful baby girl named Lucia. In an instant she became the joy of our lives and like many fathers, I would do anything for her. It did however just occur to me that thanks to the Internet’s archival wonders, she may some day be able to Google this statement and use it to make me buy her a car or something. We’ll see.

To say that my personal and professional lives have intersected would be an understatement. In short I can say that I have a much greater appreciation now for the challenges faced by working moms. I feel tired all the time and I’m not even the one breastfeeding!

Another thing that I’ve learned from fatherhood is that there is never enough time to meet all the competing demands. For example, I had every intention to use this column to present a detailed and thoughtful analysis of how federal policy either supports or detracts from fatherhood. Instead, the AMCHP policy team and I have spent most of the past week sifting through the Affordable Health Choices Act, which is the first major health reform bill being considered in the U.S. Senate HELP Committee right now. We were able to boil the 615 page bill down to a nine page preliminary summary of key MCH-related provisions, which are available here. Additional proposals from other committees are expected soon, so stay tuned.

Also, while closely following the health reform debate and advocating for strong MCH provisions, we are not letting up on our push for full funding of the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant. Congress is set to begin consideration of the FY 2010 Appropriations Bills that contain this funding on July 8, so last week we issued an Action Alert to all AMCHP Members, friends, and partners highlighting that this is a key time to weigh in on the need for adequate MCH funding. A copy of that alert is available here. We can’t stress enough how important it is for Members of Congress and their staff to hear directly from state and local constituents on the value of the Title V MCH Block Grant.

So, I ask your forgiveness for straying a bit off topic, but wanted you to know of the work we are doing on your behalf and the MCH populations you serve. As the summer unfolds, we will continue to engage in the health reform debate, and who knows, this might be the year it finally gets done.