KDA Today

KDA Today

For Immediate Release

Date: Dec 20th, 2016
Contact: Richard A. Whitehouse
Phone: 800-292-1855
Email: info@kyda.org

Political Slogans and Other Words to Live By

Our long national nightmare has come to an end! Those seemingly unending political commercials are no longer playing on television.

One would generally think it unwise for me to wax political in these articles. And, I would agree. It wouldn’t just be unwise. It would be irrelevant.

So, no wax. What follows are simply my observations and suggestions for moving forward in a political world that has dramatically changed over the last few years and recently has recently taken a big right turn.

Make Dentistry Great Again
President-elect Trump campaigned on making America great again. Many people countered that America was already great. Many dentists would say the same about dentistry. The profession shouldn’t fall into this trap.

Dentists need not be apologetic about their profession and their societal contributions. As a self-regulated group of healthcare providers, dentists have made gains in expanding access to care with an eye toward containing costs and ensuring patient safety. Moreover, their benevolence is often expressed through their service for those in need. But, much like the mantra of our president-elect, dentists are called to do more to ensure the profession retains the respect it has earned over the years. Many people – including policymakers and elected officials - are unaware of your contributions and the importance of organized dentistry as a vehicle to continued excellence.

Organized dentistry must work through differences in political philosophies and within the profession, itself. Kentucky elected a new governor last year and this year control of the Kentucky House of Representatives has changed for the first time in many years. As an association, we must navigate in new political waters and it is critical to not allow the differences within dentistry to distort our message. We must approach this as another opportunity to make a good first impression on policymakers and elected officials.

Furthermore, the election of Donald Trump as president will most likely be felt throughout the nation on many issues, but no more so than with the possible repeal or reform of the Affordable Care Act. This will undoubtedly reshape the manner in which the Medicaid system will operate in the commonwealth. This system was already poised to impact the expansion population, when the state’s Section 1115 waiver was proposed. But, again, we will continue seizing every opportunity to present our view of a sustainable program that serves the needs of Kentucky citizens and is fair to working dentists.

Other issues remain on the political horizon and will be shaped by the changed political philosophy and approach to governing in both, the state and federal governments. These include other issues related to Medicaid such as a streamlined credentialing, a restructured fee schedule and possible floor, prior authorization reform, as well as insurance reform, non-covered services, mid-level providers and the illegal practice of denturity.

Stronger Together
Secretary Clinton campaigned on the notion that we are stronger together. This is an important message for organized dentistry to internalize. It should not be confused with giving anything away or diminishing the integrity of the profession. It is a simple admission of the fact that while dentistry is inextricably tied to overall health, it is only a small part of healthcare, itself.

Beyond political differences, it accomplishes little to divide our ranks by geography, specialty or business model. Dentists must organize under a big tent. This necessarily involves including other healthcare professionals, as well as those involved in academe and public health in our public policy discussions. It also involves the realization that each of us has a role in communicating the value and benefit of KDA membership to all dentists across the state.

This strategy is one I have employed throughout my career and I have worked to build many of those bridges during my tenure here. I believe it can make all the difference. We need to continue working with others to build a stronger foundation upon which to ensure both, access to and quality of oral healthcare.

The Final Word
If we are to be successful as a country, a people or a profession, we must embrace both of these two political slogans. We must reconcile ourselves to the fact that despite the rhetoric - and in some cases animosity between the groups espousing them - they are not mutually inconsistent.

Organizations must recognize the need to adapt to changed circumstances and recognize new opportunities. Organized dentistry is no exception to that idea. The dental profession must embrace the fact that the profession is changing. However, individual dentists cannot sit idly by while the parade of change passes by. Dentists must band together disregarding the things that make them different from each other. To achieve anything in the realm of public policy, we must also find common purpose and learn to get along with those with whom we may not always agree.

So, whether you want to make or keep organized dentistry great, dentists must work together and with others to do so. Here is how you can make a difference to your profession.

• Renew your membership, today, and invite one new member to be part of organized dentistry!
• Donate to KDPAC!
• Our third annual KDA Legislative Day will take place in Frankfort this February (exact date to be determined)! Dentists can make a big impression on our legislators new and old by taking the time to show up in big numbers.
• Know someone in the legislature? Willing to call your representative or senator? Become a KDA key contact willing to educate legislators on issues affecting dentistry!
• Watch for information from the KDA and call your legislator on issues that are before them! Offer to provide testimony in your area of expertise.
• Follow me on KDAnow1! (I’m told it’s rude to ask. But, follow me.)
• Write me with your suggestions on how we can improve as an organization and better provide member benefits and experiences!
• Volunteer and send me information about what you’ve done! One of the best parts of my job is bragging about the work our dentists do across the state to expand access to and improve the outcomes of oral health for people in Kentucky.
• Experience the KDA Annual meeting! There’s a lot to see, do, and learn. But, we’re also hoping you will become more involved as mentors to new dentists and as leaders in organized dentistry.
• Go to your local society meetings. This is where the action starts. And, bring a friend!

Like in political campaigns, the really hard work begins after the results come in. I hope you will help keep organized dentistry great by working together with us in the coming New Year. Get involved in YOUR profession!

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