Last week dental leaders across the country were invited to the American Dental Political Action Committee – and ADA Council on Government Affairs-sponsored event, the Washington Leadership Conference. Here is why the annual conference was a huge success for the #ToothParty:
- Bills, Bills, Bills! Proudly displaying their #ToothParty lapel pins, the latex-gloved cavalry took Capitol Hill by storm, armed with key issues, meeting with members of Congress and their staff. Three bills were chosen by dentists across the country prior to the conference with the goal to continue gathering co-sponsors and educating members of Congress on issues facing dentistry. Since young dentists stand as the future of dentistry, student debt was the topic of the day.
The Student Loan Reform (H.R. 649) bill, would allow individuals to refinance their federal student loans more than once, allowing new dentists to refinance their federal Direct Loans, Direct PLUS Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans at any time during the life of the loans, enabling them to take advantage of lower interest rates during more favorable economic conditions. Moreover, refinanced rates would be fixed, protecting them from interest rate hikes when economic conditions worsen.
The Dental and Optometric Care Access Act of 2015 ‘DOC Access Act’ (H.R. 3323), (shout out to Rep. Buddy Carter for introducing the bill) prohibits all federally regulated dental and vision discount plans from dictating what a doctor may charge a plan enrollee for items or services not covered by the plan. Providing excellent care should never be bad for business. Giving a high-five to the 10th Amendment, this legislation would not interfere with the states’ ability to maintain and enforce their own insurance regulations and laws, but rather compliments the work already done by most state legislatures across the country.
In addition, H.R. 3323 establishes some “rules of the road” for provider network participation.
Finally, our leaders lobbied Protecting Seniors Access to Proper Care Act of 2015 (H.R. 4062), introduced by Reps. Kenny Marchant (TX-24) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03). This legislation would remove the mandate for dentists to enroll in or opt out of Medicare in order for their patients’ prescriptions to continue to be covered by Medicare Part D Plans.
- Our members made it rain! We raised over $23,000 during WLC! ADPAC is committed to giving dentists a voice on Capitol Hill in the public policy arena. It is because of our members that we will become the largest health care PAC, and who wouldn’t want those bragging rights? As we are in the midst of the most expensive election to date, we need members like you to continue to give dentists One Voice United in Washington.
- Let’s take it to five: More dentists in Congress! Attendees were given the opportunity to meet and receive a first-hand presentation from our two candidates, ADA members Dr. Drew Ferguson and Dr. Fred Costello. Dr. Ferguson (R- GA-02) began his presentation Tuesday morning, entering the stage to his song of choice, Georgia’s own Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown.” He gave an impassioned speech which mirrored that of an experienced politician. Ferguson, the current mayor of West Point, Georgia, is thought to be a frontrunner along with current State Senator Crane and wealthy businessman Jim Pace. Money will be an early separating factor in this race. Dr. Ferguson outraised both Mr. Pace and Mr. Crane in the first quarter thanks to efforts from dentists coast-to-coast. Next to take the stage with Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” blazing his path was Dr. Fred Costello (R-FL-06). Dr. Costello enthusiastically revealed to the audience why winning this Congressional seat would benefit dentistry and our nation. Dr. Costello, former mayor of Ormond Beach, Florida, and current state representative, has extensive support and networks through local and state government. Dr. Costello has the toughest path to Congress facing a challenging primary and general election.
For more on #ToothParty and ADPAC, visit ADA.org/adpac.