Advocacy: An Essential Member Benefit

10-20Presidents Message2

Advocacy: An Essential Member Benefit

As a valued member of the Capital Area Dental Society, what would you consider to be a member benefit? We all have varying perspectives on how we feel that member benefits should and could help us as dentists. Our tripartite membership in the ADA, TDA and CADS provides countless benefits to support us as members by providing access to savings, services and resources for our business and life and to support driving our career forward.

There is one benefit that I did not mention that in my mind is the most essential benefit for all members and our profession and that is …. ADVOCACY!

We can all attest to the fact that organized dentistry has been an amazing advocate for dentists and the profession of dentistry during these unprecedented times. Membership is essential for strong advocacy whether it is at the local, state, or national level.

At the national level, the ADA lobbies Congress, and the Administration to fight for issues that matter to dentists and patients. The ADA also provides technical support to help state dental societies advance their respective policy agendas. One of the success stories of the ADA’s advocacy efforts was when the Action for Dental Health Act was signed into law in 2018. The Action for Dental Health Act will allow organizations to qualify for oral health grants to support activities that improve oral health education, improve dental disease prevention, and expand outreach programs.

Another huge accomplishment in the advocacy arena for organized dentistry is the ADA calling on Congress to apply federal antitrust laws to the business of insurance by repealing parts of the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. Currently, federal law does not prohibit state-regulated health insurers from engaging in collusive practices, such as price fixing, bid rigging and market allocation schemes. This anti-competitive behavior hurts consumers by making health insurance less affordable. The ADA has been advocating for the repeal of the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act antitrust exemption for the health insurance industry for more than 20 years! There are over 90 bills related to third party payor issues in legislatures nationwide.

Most recently, the ADA has fought effectively to get HHS to extend the deadline for all dentists to apply for funding through the Enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal. The portal allows dental providers to apply for payments made for health care-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to the pandemic.

At the state level, The Texas Dental Association is our advocate for all legislative and regulatory arenas on behalf of the public and profession of dentistry. We have a stellar group of dentists in Texas that serve on the Council on Legislative and Regulatory Affairs (CLARA). They work to implement the TDA’s legislative agenda and to maintain positive working relationships with legislators, state officials, and allied professional groups. CLARA also informs members about governmental actions, mobilizes the TDA’s grassroots organization, and works with regulatory agencies to help ensure a competitive marketplace for dentists and quality dental care for all Texans.

The TDA also has an online publication, The Root, which houses current happenings at the state capitol, timely legislative updates, dental board news, regulatory reminders, and other important legislative information. When the Texas Legislature convenes in Austin for a regular session every 2 years, TDA hosts Legislative Day. Dentists from across Texas are invited to come together at the State Capitol to attend appointments scheduled with Congress and House representatives from their districts and speak about issues important to dentistry.

The TDA worked around the clock for its members during the pandemic closely collaborating with Governor Abbott’s office and his Strike Force to help get dentists and patients back into the dental office. They provided timely updates to members via email and social media and secured 300,000 N95 respirators for Texas dentists! Most recently, TDA successfully advocated to favorably amend the TSBDE COVID-19 Emergency Rule. It helped ensure that dentists can continue effectively treating patients during the pandemic.

Now more than ever it is important to contribute to DENPAC and ADPAC. DENPAC is the political action committee of the TDA and ADPAC is the political action committee of the ADA. Both give dentists a voice in the public policy arena on behalf of our practices, patients, and profession, and is our most powerful resource to make a difference!

Shailee J. Gupta, DDS, MPH

CADS President 2020-2021