Happy New Year to all,
I hope your holidays were filled with many good things, especially the warmth and love of time spent with family and friends. What I treasure most about the holidays is the unique spirit of the season. It is a special, uplifting time when people seem to have more open minds and open hearts. I have resolved this year to try to hold on to this spirit as we enter a time of great uncertainty and change.
We have witnessed very strong reactions to last fall’s election results. No matter how you feel about the outcome, as a healthcare professional, you must not disengage from the process. A new Congress has been sworn in, and we are at the eve of the inauguration of a new president. State legislatures are beginning their sessions and health care is at the top of everyone’s agenda. There is much concern and uncertainty about the direction healthcare system reforms and changes will take. I am, however, very certain about one thing. As nurses and child healthcare professionals, we have an important message about what children need to grow and thrive and that message must be delivered with volume and force. There will be opportunities to influence the system in a positive way. If you think at this point that I need new glasses, preferably without the rose-colored lenses, please stay with me a few moments longer.
I have always been interested in the subject of change and have utilized various models of change to good effect during portions of my career. Lessons learned from the study of change, particularly The Change Theory of Nursing by Kurt Lewin, are particularly applicable in the current health policy environment. Lewin theorized a model of change consisting of three stages: unfreezing, change and refreezing. The process of initiating change entails creating the perception that a change is needed. A crisis is exposed or created such that staying where you are is not an option and doing nothing will result in disaster. The results of the past election have definitely created an unfrozen situation in health care. Though there certainly is some danger in the direction change may take in the current political environment, there is also increased opportunity to influence that change especially where child health policy is concerned.
In times of change, it is more likely that individuals and systems will be able to let go of old patterns and overcome prior influences. Also, it has almost always been possible to achieve bipartisan cooperation in enacting important legislation for children. Reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a prime example. Secondly, to take advantage of these dynamics, we must speak with one voice. We must courageously speak the truth about issues, policies and proposals that affect our children and present evidence to back what we say. We must maintain our credibility with policymakers on all sides of the political spectrum. We must be cautious and thoughtful and resist being drawn into hyper-partisan political warfare, but never shy away from presenting our positions.
Navigating this environment will require courage, skill and the knowledge and engagement of all our more than 8,500 members. I have a great deal of confidence in NAPNAP’s health policy team and the ability of our organization to be a powerful and credible voice for America’s children. In doing so we can take advantage of the current change environment to the benefit of our children and our ability to care for them as they need and deserve. I know one policy opportunity that is just around the corner. Although it seems like just yesterday, the most recent two-year reauthorization of CHIP expires this year and must be addressed by Congress in the coming months. I ask all of you to remain informed and engaged in NAPNAP’s important policy work, both on the federal level and in monitoring and influencing the work of your state legislatures. Be sure to join our Feb. 1 Child Health Policy Learning Collaborative call to learn more about our next steps on CHIP. We also look to you to answer our calls to action in the coming months regarding child health priorities. Let’s start the new year resolved to participate in our important advocacy work. We have an opportunity to make change work for us. Let’s take it.
All my best,