The Year in Review: A Look at the Past and a Glimpse to the Future
By Phyllis J. Sloyer, RN, PhD, FAHM, FAAP
Upon reflection of the past two years as your president, I couldn’t help but remember landmarks in my professional life that created a new spark of energy and kept me focused on maternal and child health. The first landmark for me was the creation of the Title V MCH Block Grant. I was one of those novices who lived through its development and implementation. And while it may have appeared that Title V programs were threatened, we used this funding strategy to begin thinking about a redefinition of what constituted an effective health care delivery system for children and children with special health care needs. The second landmark appeared with OBRA ’89, fondly referred to by some of my colleagues as a big purse of money held by a few trying to get along (refer to the dictionary definitions of omnibus, budget, and reconciliation). For us, this legislation reaffirmed the value of the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program and the intent behind those five letters. It also meant a renewed commitment to children’s health care and a new framework for Title V. The third landmark appeared with the enactment of the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997 and subsequently its reauthorization. Unlike other pieces of legislation that preceded it, the power of CHIP was in its sole policy focus on children’s health care and the ability to test new ideas. We have made remarkable progress in streamlining eligibility and, in fact, much of the CHIP work will help us as we move to the fourth landmark, the Affordable Care Act.
During all of these momentous occasions, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) provided important assistance and guidance to state Title V programs. I recall the policy briefs on the role of Title V in EPSDT programs or the role of Title V in CHIP outreach. AMCHP astutely adapts itself to the changing forces and works with its members to find answers or locate best practices. It has effectively advocated for continued Title V funding and played a key role in the enactment of the Home Visiting section of the Affordable Care Act. I began my term with three goals; 1) establish effective advocacy initiatives for Title V; 2) expand member involvement in committees and the “work” of AMCHP; and 3) expand the acquisition and dissemination of best practices. I think there is no doubt that our advocacy has been effective over the past year and that we have more members expressing an interest in serving on committees. While, we have continued to acquire best practices, this is an area that doesn’t necessarily have an end point and I suspect there will be many more in upcoming years.
I feel privileged to have served as your president. You are an incredible membership bonded together by a vision of healthy mothers, children and families. I truly wish that I could turn over the gavel without impending challenges. But such is not the case. The frailties of our economic environment will certainly set the stage for the next several years. All leadership skills are needed to stay focused on priority programs and to continue to meet our respective missions, goals and objectives. Collective efforts and enhanced partnerships become even more vital as we enter the second decade of this century. Someone once said that limitations live only in our minds, but if we use our imaginations, the possibilities are limitless. Step up to meet the limitations and challenges and remember who and what we are about the next time you meet a family or hear a child laugh. Never forget those faces or what they mean for this society!