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Letters: In support of Dr. Tom Price

March 20, 2017 I support the ADA's position on its letter of support for Tom Price, M.D., U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services ("ADA to Congress: 'Promptly Confirm Dr. Tom Price," Jan. 23 ADA News), not because I took part in any discussions or votes on the subject, but because I agree with the reasoning behind it. In fact, I have not spoken with anyone in a position to influence this decision. 

Dr. Paul Benjamin wrote in his Feb. 20 letter to the ADA News that, "We like it when our government supports Medicaid and helps those that suffer from inadequate care" and uses this as his basis for calling out the ADA for being hypocritical. 

Yet, the assumption that Dr. Price would end support for the needy simply because he is seeking to change the way the federal government helps states pay for Medicaid is a bridge too far for me. 

There are many ways to help those who suffer from inadequate care. 

Sometimes it may, indeed, be through Medicaid; other times through private foundations; and other times through loan payback programs or charitable care by our members. But having worked in a variety of Medicaid-type offices both in New York and California (admittedly a small sample) and served as a member of state regulatory boards (a larger sample indeed) many dentists wouldn't be far off to believe that Medicaid is far from fulfilling its objectives. 

Why wouldn't we want to work with an HHS secretary who has actual boots on the ground experience providing care to patients to try and fix a system that is considered by many to be broken? 

Dr. Price is in alignment with many ADA members and fellow health care professional colleagues in believing that local governments know what is needed in their own communities and also need to be held accountable for their results. 

Many ADA member dentists just tend to believe that when government is going to step in and offer help to patients, that help ought to be managed as close to the doctors and patients as possible. 

Thus, Dr. Price's statements promoting federalism seem to reinforce that belief; state governments have a far better vantage point when it comes to meeting the needs of their citizens. 

Sure, there are the rare exception when candidates are completely unqualified or ethically or legally challenged, for example. Dr. Price does not fall into that category. 

Joel L. Strom, D.D.S.
Los Angeles