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Grassroots leaders in strong voice

WLC features political insights

May 20, 2014

By Craig Palmer

Washington—The nation's grassroots dental leaders sang, "Happy birthday, Maxine," as ADA President Dr. Charles Norman announced President-elect Dr. Maxine Feinberg's birthday in opening the May 19-21 Washington Leadership Conference.

George Bush's former Press Secretary Dana Perino
Dana Perino: President George Bush's former press secretary May 19 addresses the ADA's 2014 Washington Leadership Conference.
Photo by Bill Geiger 

Citing the momentary celebration as "the biggest birthday party I've ever had," Dr. Feinberg introduced keynote speaker Dana Perino, the former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. "The good news about the Bushes is that they've eased into a life of policy not politics," she said. "President Bush says they've retired to the promised land in what Mrs. Bush says is the afterlife."

More than 500 dental leaders came to the nation's capital to lobby members of Congress on Action for Dental Health legislation and student loan reforms and to voice concerns about implementation of the Medicaid recovery audit contractor program.

"You are the best spokesmen for dentistry in the United States," dentist/Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, told the dental leaders in a video message delivered at the WLC on the eve of the May 20 Republican primary in his congressional district. "And you are the most respected profession. You have to become involved in politics. I look forward to working with all of you at this important time so that we can advance the oral health of all Americans."

"You know how important advocacy is for dentistry," said Dr. Ken McDougall, chair of the American Dental Political Action Committee. "On behalf of ADPAC and the Council on Government Affairs, we thank you for making this trip to Washington. The 2014 election cycle is one of the most important we have faced. We are seeing tremendous change in the health care system in America, and we have three new issues to take to Congress."

Many of the state dental delegations will visit with members of Congress and legislative staff to discuss the three issues described in WLC materials "and educate them on key issues and priorities that are important to our members, our patients and our communities," said ADA president Dr. Charles Norman.