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U.S. senator, House leader laud profession at WLC

April 30, 2015

By Craig Palmer

Political address: U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D., encourages dental leaders at the Washington Leadership Conference to support promising candidates early in their campaigns to establish lasting relationships.
Washington — Bipartisan members of Congress lauded the dental profession at the April 27-29 Washington Leadership Conference "for what you do in your communities and for serving our country."

More than 500 dentists, state dental association staff and other dental leaders registered for the annual WLC from all 50 states. Many scheduled meetings with those members of Congress who were in town during the WLC and others met with congressional staff to discuss issues important to the dental profession.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D., a Louisiana Republican, and Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat and House minority whip, came to the WLC to praise the profession and invite the nation's dental leaders to visit their members of Congress and congressional staff.

Educate and inform: Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., discussed the Affordable Care act in his address to dental leaders at the WLC and said, "Congress needs to do more to make sure dental care is accessible to all Americans."
Both expressed uncertainty and bipartisan stress over the public policy debate and looming Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Cassidy cited uncertainty over legislation to repeal the ACA medical device tax, telling the dental leaders, "I don't know how this is going to play; I really don't."

Rep. Hoyer said the ACA policy debate is focused on "two options, repeal or don't touch it, neither of them right in my opinion." He lauded ACA coverage of pediatric dental care but said, "Congress needs to do more to make sure dental care is accessible to all Americans and we'll be looking to you to help us."

Both indicated an understanding of dentists' concerns with low Medicaid reimbursement rates as impeding access to care.

"You're here for political involvement," said Sen. Cassidy, who won election in January with the support of Louisiana dentists. He urged dentists to get behind promising candidates early in their campaigns for public office to establish lasting relationships that serve profession and elected official well. "Your first race is your hardest. When you run for office there's always a dominant issue and you can leverage this [your political power] in any state."

Rep. Hoyer urged WLC attendees to "educate" their representatives in Congress and "inform them. Most of them don't know what you face every day because we need your advice and counsel."