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ADA president gets to know Washington

October 18, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Reps Simpson, Babin, Van Drew and Dr Gehani
Congressional affairs: ADA President Chad P. Gehani, far right, meets with dentist members of Congress. Pictured from left to right are Reps. Mike Simpson, Brian Babin and Jeff Van Drew.
Washington — “Welcome to Washington — it’s great to have you here.”

Those were the words of Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, a dentist who has been in Congress for more than 20 years, upon meeting ADA President Chad P. Gehani during his Oct. 16 visit to Washington.

During a whirlwind day of activities, Dr. Gehani sat down with four members of Congress who also happen to be dentists. In addition to Rep. Simpson, he met with Reps. Brian Babin, R-Texas, Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J. (The fifth dentist member, Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., was unable to attend, but his chief of staff, David Sours, went in his stead.)

The goal was to discuss legislation important to dentistry — which they did — but with five dentists in the room, talk naturally veered over to their shared trade. Everyone chuckled when Rep. Van Drew talked about patients pretending not to eat sticky candies, even when the evidence was right there in their mouths.

“I learned a lot. I was very pleased to sit down and have a frank, heart-to-heart discussion with four members of Congress. That was a big deal to me,” said Dr. Gehani. “I am so glad we have representatives who are dentists who understand the challenges of the profession and the importance of representing patients.”

Dr. Gehani also brought up the ADA’s efforts on McCarran-Ferguson reform, which would empower the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to enforce the full range of federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies, and reminded the lawmakers how the Association was one of the first health care organizations to create policy on opioids.

 Drs. Ricks, Gehani and Taylor
Meet and greet: ADA President Chad P. Gehani, center, poses with Rear Adm. Tim Ricks, chief dental officer, U.S. Public Health Service, left, and Dr. James Taylor, chief dental officer in the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Immediately following his meeting with the representatives, Dr. Gehani sat down with Rear Adm. Timothy L. Ricks, chief dental officer for the U.S. Public Health Service, and Dr. James Taylor, chief dental officer in the Public Health Agency of Canada. The trio discussed community water fluoridation in their respective countries as well as ways to improve access to dental care.

“It’s always nice to exchange ideas,” Dr. Gehani said.

It’s a tradition for the ADA president to visit Washington after taking office. This was an especially active time to visit since staff is working around the clock keeping key issues such as health insurance reform, student debt and noncovered services top of mind with lawmakers. Indeed, following his back-to-back morning meetings, Dr. Gehani headed to the White House for a meeting with the White House’s Domestic Policy Council to ask for the administration’s continued support for McCarran-Ferguson reform legislation.

For more information about McCarran-Ferguson reform, visit ADA.org/McF.