From the CEO

The Year in Review, the Year Ahead

By Mike R. Fraser, PhD, CAE 

Dickens’ famous opening line in A Tale of Two Cities (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”) seems like an appropriate start to my column this month. Certainly 2010 was a banner year for maternal and child health programs in general, and Title V more specifically. We celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the MCH Services Block Grant and AMCHP received the Director’s Award from MCHB at that auspicious occasion. Our work on health reform paid dividends through the recognition of Title V as the place for new provisions on home visitation and adolescent health to the tune of $1.8 billion new dollars over the next five years. Our leadership and advocacy was honored by the American Public Health Association’s MCH Section with an “Outstanding Leadership and Advocacy” award. AMCHP’s program team reached over 3,500 individuals through our distance learning programs, published new resources for state MCH programs to support your work in many critical areas, and the March 2010 AMCHP Conference drew our highest attendance since 2001. Our website continues to be updated, our online publication Pulse received a Bronze Award from AssociationTrends magazine and our commemorative booklet on Title V received a Silver Award in the same contest’s special publication/commemorative edition category. There is a lot to be proud of, and lots to celebrate in terms of AMCHP’s program, policy and organizational performance. The AMCHP Board, and many, many members, staff and partners should be commended on a great 2010 for AMCHP! Much of this great work is summarized in this issue of Pulse

And yet, despite a great 2010, we faced many challenges. States struggled from the economic downturn and continue to have to make tough choices about budget cuts that have stressed MCH programs even with new federal investments. We lost several good friends of AMCHP including Polly Arrango, Ryan Colburn and Cassie Johnston among several others. And we ended 2010 with a major change in Washington and a new majority in control of the House of Representatives. 

So, what does all this mean for the year ahead? Another line comes to mind – the immortal words of Bette Davis in All About Eve -- “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”  Honestly, I am not sure what the future holds but it is going to be a bumpy ride. We have good reason to believe that many federal programs, including the Title V MCH Services Block Grant and other funding for MCH programs, will face significant cuts in the FY2011 and FY2012 appropriations cycle. We know that the politics of health care reform will continue to influence how we implement new MCH programs, and impact the way that you operate within your state health agencies and organizations. And we know that states will continue to suffer tremendous fiscal pressures that will eat away at the capacity of state MCH programs to continue to provide the same level of service and support for our nation’s women, children, and families. 

So, what are we to do as MCH leaders facing an uncertain 2011? Build on the successes of our past and look to the future with cautious, but warranted, optimism. We have weathered tough times before and we have had to change our programs and adapt. AMCHP will continue to support its members and partners as best we can, including providing analysis and information from our National Center for Health Reform Implementation. We will redouble our efforts to show why cuts to MCH programs may be penny wise, but are certainly pound foolish. And we will continue to learn and listen from member and partners who care deeply about our work and want to play a part in our AMCHP family. So, fasten those seatbelts! Thank you for a great 2010, and thank you in advance for an equally great 2011.