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ADA president visits Capitol Hill

March 24, 2016

By Jennifer Garvin

Leaders: Dr. Summerhays, with Dr. Richard Andolina, far left, and Dr. Bruce Hutchison, meet with Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., far right, chair of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.
Washington — When members express their ADA pride to President Carol Gomez Summerhays, one of the first things they praise is the Association's advocacy work.

From fighting on behalf of fluoride to the recent extension of Medicare Part D to easing the burden of student loans, the ADA lends its voice to dentistry everyday in Washington.

"Advocacy for patients and the profession is a top priority for our 159,000 member dentists and 22,000 dental student members," said Dr. Summerhays, who said she was thrilled to witness the process firsthand during a March 23 visit. Dr. Summerhays, together with Dr. Bruce Hutchison, chair, American Dental Political Action Committee, and Dr. Richard Andolina, ADPAC chair-elect, met with leaders from 22 offices and 13 states as well as leaders from the Democratic and Republican Congressional and Senate Campaign committees.

On the hill: Dr. Summerhays meets with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, during her March 23 visit to Capitol Hill.

"Spending time on Capitol Hill is a high priority for me," said Dr. Summerhays. "I look forward to even more opportunities this year. It was a pleasure to also spend time in our ADA Washington DC office to thank our full time staff for their work, which has made the ADA the leading advocate for oral health," Dr. Summerhays said.

Having that personal touch goes a long way, said Dr. Hutchison.

"Being on Capitol Hill and meeting members of Congress, you realize how powerful being a dentist is. They have so much respect for who we are, and what we have to say. They understand we give up valuable practice time to talk to them and they get it; we're looking out for our patients, who are also their constituents.

"It's important to be there giving the message in person." 

Added Dr. Andolina, "This was one of the greatest experiences I have every experienced as a representative of the ADA and ADPAC. I wish others would have the opportunity to interact in a similar venue with our legislators and the political party committees on issues that affect our profession and particularly the patients we treat. What impressed me the most was the recognition and respect that everyone had for the dental profession and particularly for the American Dental Association."