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Profession, lawmakers meet on 'heavily traveled’ two-way streets

May 09, 2012

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Washington—ADA’s Washington Leadership Conference took an inter-professional turn, dentist political activist meeting physician lawmaker “at the intersection of increasingly heavily traveled” public policy streets.

Georgia smiles: Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., (third from right) hosts a WLC delegation in his Capitol Hill office. From left are Dr. James Hutson; Dr. Michael Vernon, Georgia Dental Association president; Georjan Kudyba, Alliance of the American Dental Association representative to ADA Council on Government Affairs; Dr. Janine Bethea; and Dr. Richard Weinman, council chair. Photos by Stan Barouh for ADA News

Texas dentists welcomed Rep. Michael Burgess M.D. (R-Texas), as a WLC speaker and Georgia dentists talked health care policy with Rep. Phil Gingrey, M.D. (R-Ga.), in his Capitol Hill office. More than 300 dentists and state dental executives among some 450 registrants from 49 states, the District of Columbia and Canada canvassed the Hill during the May 7-9 WLC for policy discussions and social engagements with House and Senate members who represent them in Congress and congressional staff.

Forty-seven registrants said this would be their first Washington Leadership Conference.

These are dentists active in their communities and with their profession, members and leaders of “action teams” organized in congressional districts throughout the country. “It’s not what we are but rather who we are,” Dr. William R. Calnon, ADA president, said in his WLC welcome and by way of describing his recent engagements with public media.

“The media will often give us a heads up on where they’re going with a story and offer an opportunity to set the record straight or at least assert our Association policy,” Dr. Calnon said. “On the occasion they don’t we are generally ready with a response when the story breaks or an after-publication response opportunity much like that offered by The New York Times in publishing my letter in response to Dr. Louis Sullivan (Louis W. Sullivan, M.D., a former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services).” (See also ‘Mutual, overarching goal should eclipse our differences.')

Welcome: The ADA Texas delegation meets WLC speaker Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas (fourth from left). From left are Dr. Russell Schlattman, Dr. Hilton Israelson, Dr. James Condrey, Dr. Richard Black, Dr. Patricia Blanton, Dr. Ronald Rhea, Dr. Donna Barefield, Dr. Michael Stuart and Dr. J. Preston Coleman.

“Professionals and legislators meet at the intersection of increasingly heavily traveled two-way streets,” said the ADA president. “And you are leaders in your profession and your communities. Work with all the stakeholders out there because we’re in this together, profession, legislature, media and public and you are our message bearer.”

The message taken to Capitol Hill varied among WLC state delegations but included discussion of access to care, dental benefits, fluoridation, Medicaid, medically recommended dental care, taxation of dental devices, volunteer and charitable dentistry and pending House and Senate legislation.