Editor’s note: This is the first article in a New Dentist Now series focused on informing new dentists on the importance of advocacy and on policies and proposed legislation affecting them.
Dr. Justin Norbo is a general dentist in Purcellville, Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry in 2010. He is a third-year member of the American Dental Association New Dentist Committee, and serves as the NDC representative to the American Dental Political Action Committee. Dr. Norbo spoke with New Dentist Now to discuss the importance of advocacy.
New Dentist Now: How did you get you involved in the ADA and advocacy issues?
Dr. Norbo: Well it was pretty easy for me to fall into organized dentistry because I practice with my father, and he’s been involved with organized dentistry for a very long time. I started going to component meetings with him, and I started volunteering for things. Once you become a familiar face in different places, and people can count on you to be there, they’ll volunteer you if you don’t volunteer yourself.
New Dentist Now: Why is it important for new dentists to be aware and be engaged?
Dr. Norbo: As new dentists, I think it’s important to know and take action on legislative issues that can impact our profession. These issues can impact the way we practice in the next 20-30-plus years. Legislation that affects dentistry will probably have more of an impact on new dentists than those who are only practicing for another 5 years.
New Dentist Now: What are some of the legislative issues affecting dentistry right now? Any hot topics?
Dr. Norbo: There are several hot topics and legislative issues happening right now that can affect dentists. The Federal Non-Covered Services Act, this bill would prohibit insurance companies from setting prices on procedures not covered by plans. The Medical Device Tax, this bill has been postponed until 2017 and will hopefully be repealed through lobbying efforts at the time. Medicare Part D-Opt in/out, this legislations is very complicated and each provider must evaluate his or her own practice to understand what action to take with regards to this law. In short, the legislation requires providers to opt-in or opt-out of being a Medicare prescription writer. There are items to evaluate as to whether you should be a provider or not, i.e. whether or not you treat sleep apnea in your office. After several postponements, this legislation is planned to take effect this summer.
New Dentist Now: What about at the state level?
Dr. Norbo: At the state level, it’ll be hard for me to generalize how all states get their word out for advocacy issues. Every state is different. In Virginia, certainly going to local component meetings. There are always discussions about different things that are going on. We have our “Day on the Hill” and I think a lot of states have similar programs where you schedule meetings with your local delegates and senators and lobby them down at the capitol.
New Dentist Now: What are some things new dentists can do to make their voices heard?
Dr. Norbo: The easiest way to get involved, even in certain legislative issues, is just getting involved at the local level first and attending your component meetings. From there, you can become more informed on what’s happening at the state and national level.
For more information on becoming for involved in advocacy, visit ADA.org/advocacy.