Rupin Thakkar, MD, FAAP
President, Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
This past weekend our board of trustees and committee chairs gathered in Leavenworth for our annual retreat. We briefly celebrated our many achievements over the past year: increased supports to families seeking behavioral health care and increased the Medicaid rate for pediatric care, we exceeded our goals for growth in membership and set a new record for participation in advocacy day, our healthcare transformation committee put on two fantastic population health forums and supported numerous practices, we hosted engaging listening sessions throughout the state, and we provided education to over 400 providers statewide on population health, developmental screening, depression screening, and adolescent health. But our annual retreat is less about reflecting on the past year and more about charting our future.
Since our board and committee rosters have increased in size and activity, we better defined our roles and our succession planning. We strategized ways to strengthen the financial health of our chapter so that we can retain our tireless staff and continue to support pediatricians across the state with educational programs and practice improvement initiatives. We discussed how we can better support and engage pediatric subspecialists, and how we can move the needle on helping our primary care members integrate behavioral health into their practices.
Of course, we also firmed up our legislative agenda. For the November ballot, we have endorsed Initiative 1639, which can make great strides towards firearm safety in our state, and Initiative 1631, which aims to provide cleaner air, cleaner water, and a more sustainable built environment for our children. For the next legislative session, we will fight to achieve full parity in Medicaid to Medicare payment rates for pediatric primary care, subspecialty care, and behavioral health. We will also advocate to increase the minimum age of purchase of tobacco and nicotine products to 21. Perhaps most importantly, our leadership received trainings on how we can become savvier at telling the stories of the challenges that we and our patients face every day. That messaging will be critical to achieving our goals.
Our chapter is fortunate to have assembled a diverse, passionate, and hardworking leadership. More importantly, our membership is more engaged than ever. We will continue to support each other, and we will make Washington’s children healthier and safer.