September 2017 Volume LII Number 5

 
 
 
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A Message from Your President

September 2017 Volume LII Number 5

The Only Constant in Life in Change

With everything changing, the only thing that has remained constant is the chaos of legislative change in Washington, D.C. As of this writing, the Senate is working on legislation to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, following up on similar actions already taken by the House of Representatives. Several proposals have come and gone and will likely resurface before it is all over. The only thing that likely will happen is that something will change.

The current system in many states is overburdened and un- derfunded. Numerous issues also exist with the current exchanges (limited options and high deductibles to name a few). Fortunately, a significant number of our members provide Dental Homes for pa- tients insured in the Medicaid program. Unfortunately, the children cannot rely solely on the generosity of our members to provide care when the reimbursement is less than their overhead costs. The first step in providing sustainable access to care is adequate reimburse- ment. We need to make the system work for our most vulnerable children and special health care needs patients.

Fortunately, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry pro- vides a compass to follow – optimal oral health for all children. The AAPD is closely monitoring potential legislative changes regarding the oral health care of children. Our Congressional Liaison Dr. Heber Simmons Jr., is frequently in D.C., meeting with both sides of the aisle to discuss pediatric oral health and advocate for chil- dren. The AAPD also works closely with our lobbying firm, Hogan Lovells, the American Dental Association and other dental special- ties to make sure we have a consistent message on Capitol Hill.

The AAPD is continuing to support four key issues in the developing health care legislation. The final version should require oral health coverage for children, ensure that first dollar cover- age is available for preventative services, require a separate dental deductible for embedded medical/dental plans, and finally, require reauthorization of the CHIP program.

How can you help? Fortunately there are several options for you to get involved in the process.

First, you can contribute to the Political Action Committee (PAC) of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The tim- ing is critical as the 2018 elections are just around the corner. The AAPD PAC has steering committee members from each of the AAPD districts and meets at least twice per year. It exists to help us identify and support current members of Congress and potential congressional candidates who are receptive to our message and goals. The AAPD PAC performs a very thorough evaluation process of the candidates and has been very bipartisan in its support. The PAC has several giving levels allowing everyone to participate at a comfortable level. The funding to the PAC allows the AAPD to carry its message of optimal pediatric oral health to D.C. More information about the AAPD PAC can be found at http://www.aapd. org under the Public Policy and Advocacy tab.

The second thing you can do is to make contact with your U.S. representative or senator and discuss your concerns with the po- tential impact of the repeal/reform efforts on pediatric oral health. The AAPD hosts a Public Policy Advocacy Conference each spring in D.C., where members meet with their congressional delegations on Capitol Hill. More effective is establishing a relationship with your congressperson at home in the district. Invite your representa- tive or senator to your office to see first hand the concerns or issues that you have. Attend a town hall meeting, arrange to meet over a cup of coffee, or better yet offer to host a fundraiser for your mem- ber in your home or office.

Third, with the impact that the federal changes will have on the state funding levels, get involved with your state AAPD Public Policy Advocate and state dental association. Attend lobby days at the state level and get involved in the legislative affairs or state political action committees. If you are from one of the few states without an AAPD Public Policy Advocate, contact Scott Litch (slitch@aapd.org) to express your interest. The Public Policy Advocate helps to keep the state chapter and national leadership abreast of any legislation that may have an adverse impact on our patients.

Fourth, reach out and establish relationships with your local and state representatives. This is extremely important as they likely will be the people attempting to craft implementation plans that will affect you on a daily basis. They will need to understand the impact of any new legislation on our patients and businesses and it is im- portant that we provide the resources to help them do that.

Fifth, stay informed on the potential reform efforts at a federal and state level. Parents and affected families will be seeking out information on the potential changes. As a trusted member of their care network, they may seek your opinion or advice. Our patients and families who will be impacted can help carry our message and concerns to the state and federal officials potentially amplifying our impact.

Finally, don’t forget to stop and enjoy summer and make special memories with your family and loved ones. As always, please feel free to contact me if I can ever be of service.

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