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5 Reasons Why This Busy Intern Will #VoteKids in the 2018 Midterm Elections


Molly Markowitz, MD
October 9, 2018

Save DACA! Extend CHIP! End gun violence. Many of the political decisions made by our elected officials this past year have had a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of children. As pediatricians and trainees committed to both caring--and advocating--for children, we’ve rallied around critical issues such as access to vital health care services, urgently needed gun safety laws, and protection of immigrant child health. Busy clinicians and residents working 80-hour weeks worked this flurry of advocacy into our schedules because we know how important it is to our young patients.

 

But one of the most powerful ways we can support children this year is to get out and vote. The midterm elections this year are expected to affect state and federal policies, including those involving children, for a decade or more. That’s why, no matter how tired, hungry, or stressed I may feel on November 6th, which happens to be my first day working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, I plan to #VoteKids. 


No matter how tired, hungry, or stressed this busy resident will be on Nov. 6, @mollymarkowitz says in #AAPvoices, she won’t miss this critical chance to #VoteKids.

In case you need convincing, I want to revisit some of the key child health advocacy challenges from the past year that serve as a reminder for why we must elect leaders who put children first: 

 

1. #SaveDACA. Last fall, the Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), which granted more than 800,000 vulnerable immigrant children residency in the United States. Many DREAMers fled with their parents to escape violence and pursue the opportunity to learn, work, give back, and thrive in our country. Thanks to DACA, these children graduated college, served in our military, became nurses, teachers, entrepreneurs, and have become integral parts of communities. Their future is in limbo and will be decided by our elected politicians.

 

2. #ExtendCHIP. Almost 9 million children in the United States rely on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to access vital health care services such as preventative well child care, vaccinations, and prescription medications. Funding for this program expired in September 2017 and it was not until the end of January that Congress passed long-term funding for the program, meaning months of uncertainty for families. Moving forward, this program will need to be maintained and supported by our elected officials.

 

3. #ProtectFamilies. We have all seen the horrific images and heard the heartbreaking stories about immigrant children separated from their parents at the border. These children and families often experience significant trauma in their country of origin and are exposed to additional toxic stressors and unnecessary harm once in the United States. We continue to speak out against the separation of families and the use of family detention. The newest threat to immigrant health – the public charge proposal – that could keep immigrant families and children from accessing vital health services is equally concerning. Our leaders must pass policies that support all children.

 

4. #EndGunViolence. Gunfire kills 1,300 children each year in the United States and harms many more. This year, we’ve witnessed the courageous efforts by children across the country as they publicly called on elected officials to enact common sense gun safety laws. To date, legislators have failed to make meaningful progress toward better protecting our children from gun violence. Our future political leaders must act.

 

5. #Putkids1st. As residents, physicians, and health care providers, we have a unique perspective on how policies and programs enacted by our government and elected officials impact children and families in our communities. I believe we must use our collective voice to tell lawmakers how they can support programs and policies that put kids first!


"The midterm elections this year are expected to affect state and federal policies, including those involving children, for a decade or more.”

 

Put simply, there is a lot at stake for children and families this election! Here are a few easy steps for how to cast your ballot, no matter how busy your schedule:

 

  • Step 1: Register to Vote. This may be critical if you have recently moved. You can find state specific information here.
  • Step 2: Check Your Voter Registration Deadline: Keep this date in mind and plan ahead to accommodate your schedule. You can find state specific information here.
  • Step 3: Know Your Voting Options: You are busy, so check-out Early Voting options that  work with your schedule or send in an Absentee Ballot if you can’t make it in person.
  • Step 4: Vote! You now have no excuses, and so many vulnerable children need you to use your voice.

While children can't vote, pediatricians and others who care for children can. We are just weeks away from the important midterm elections, so now is the time to plan how you will #VoteKids.

Note: Are you attending the 2018 AAP National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando? The last day of the conference, Tuesday, November 6, is Election Day. Many states offer absentee and early voting options to ensure your ballot is complete and will be counted. More information here.


* The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

About the Author


Molly Markowitz, MD, a general pediatrics resident at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, is Executive Coordinator of Medical Student Initiatives for the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Pediatric Trainees.

 








Additional Information

AAP Get Out the Vote campaign. The national midterm elections will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, when federal, state and local officials across the country will be elected. The AAP Get Out the Vote campaign, #VoteKids, encourages pediatricians and others who care for children to vote with kids in mind this election. The campaign website, aap.org/votekids, includes information on what's at stake for children, how and where to register to vote and what you can do to speak up for children at the ballot box.