KDA Today

KDA Today

For Immediate Release

Date: Feb 23rd, 2018
Contact: Mr. Richard Whitehouse
Phone: 800-292-1855
Email: info@kyda.org

Be There or Beware!

Our annual KDA Legislative Day in Frankfort will be Thursday, March 1st!

You’ll be there, right?

I know this will take you out of your busy office and may require some juggling of your appointment schedule. But, it’s important. It’s more than your livelihood. We’ll be talking dentistry and meeting with some of the legislative leaders who will be making decisions regarding your practice, your patients and the future of your profession.

For those still reading, here are some basic FAQs about KDA Legislative Day:

How long has this been going on?
Our first event was in 2015 on the heels of one of the worst snowstorms in fifty years. Despite that, we had strong attendance by both dentists and legislators. The event has grown every year since.

Why do I care?
Dentists are members of an elite profession that is both, highly respected and highly technical. Yet, many groups and organizations besides dentists are working to influence elected officials and policymakers on oral health issues. Recently, some have even portrayed members of the dental profession in an unflattering light in the media. Events like Legislative Day provide KDA members the opportunity to set the record straight and build relationships with legislators that better establish the profession as the leader in advancing oral health across the commonwealth. This is especially important given the prominence of healthcare as a topic at the state and federal levels.

What’s at stake?
In a word, everything. Regulatory issues that affect your everyday practice begin with legislative action. The very nature and scope of dentistry is determined by the state legislature. With more and more groups attempting to influence oral health policy, only dentists can communicate the big picture in terms of questions related to workforce and bring evidence-based solutions to the table regarding proper care and treatment. Dentists are uniquely suited to lead in identifying ways to expand access to care and improve oral health outcomes. But, decisions will be made that impact dentistry, whether dentists are there are not. Your involvement in organized dentistry and attendance at Legislative Day demonstrates to legislators and other policymakers that the KDA is the voice of organized dentistry and dentists want to be part of the solution to the many problems that result from poor oral health.

What are the KDA positions on issues affecting dentistry?
* Opioid abuse has become a national epidemic. The KDA supports legislation that turns back this tide, while ensuring that providers remain empowered to exercise appropriate clinical judgment.

* Tele-dentistry employs telecommunications technology to the practice of dentistry in order to exchange clinical information across distances for the purpose of dental consulting and treatment planning. KDA supports the use of technology to better serve Kentuckians – particularly in underserved and remote areas of the state. However, the KDA opposes unlicensed persons and out-of-state groups providing such services as a risk to the health and welfare of citizens and supports legislation to ensure public safety.

* Insurance Reform is critical to recognize the mouth as part of the body in ensuring overall good health. KDA supports the improved coverage of care and coordination of benefits with medical care. The KDA also actively supports reform in current policy related to non-covered services.

* Medicaid Services are essential to the most vulnerable of our citizens. KDA supports dentists doing this work by advocating for increasing the Medicaid fee schedule and holding managed care organizations responsible for making the process simpler and fairer to dentists who serve our most vulnerable population. This includes better reporting data to identify the current workforce and enacting prior authorization reform. As the state launches its new Kentucky HEALTH program, the KDA will continue to provide the Administration with information on the effect of implementation of these and other state policies on working dentists.

* Mid-Level Providers are often looked to as the solution across the country when there is a shortage of providers. However, there is no shortage of dentists in Kentucky. Rather, our problem is one of distribution. KDA supports efforts to increase services to underserved areas through tax reform and more effective Medicaid policies. The KDA also supports the work of public health dental hygienists and community dental health coordinators, who possess the education, training and expertise to meet the needs of the underserved and serve as part of the dental team. KDA is opposed to dental therapists who do not increase the ability of our dental workforce to solve the problems we face in Kentucky.

* Integrating medical and dental education through inter-professional initiatives at our state schools will aid in restoring the mouth as part of the body in the minds of providers and policymakers. KDA supports such an approach, which not only improves oral health outcomes, but also aids in the detection of other serious diseases of the body.

* Student debt is a serious national problem across the country in higher education. It directly influences newly graduated dentists’ ability to practice and serve those most in need. KDA supports loan forgiveness programs and legislation to adequately fund higher education.

* Tax reform is an issue that has long affected the success of businesses. Fiscal pressure has led some to consider a professional services tax on dental services, which the KDA opposes. However, the KDA supports a tax on sugary drinks that have been linked to tooth decay and other health problems and further supports the proceeds on such a tax being applied to establishing a sustainable workforce for Medicaid patients. KDA also supports tax incentives to increase care in underserved areas of the state.

* Public health initiatives, including smoking cessation efforts and curbing the consumption of sugary drinks are critical issues to both, oral and overall health. They lead to additional health issues that place additional pressure on the healthcare system. KDA is working with stakeholders in these areas to make a difference in the lives of all Kentuckians by supporting efforts toward healthier lifestyles.

How do I find my senator or representative?
If you don’t already know them, you can find them at http://www.lrc.ky.gov.

If I’m not there, it won’t really matter. Someone else will speak for me.
I will forego the lecture on professional responsibility and simply suggest that numbers matter. Our ability to bump the needle on advocacy for the profession is directly related to our ability to fill the room with engaged members of the profession. Plus, you won’t get a free toothbrush, if you don’t come!

What do I need to do?
Well, here’s a checklist:
* Identify your state representative and senator. Call them. Schedule an appointment to meet them at 10:30 in their office on March 1st and invite them to lunch afterward in room 113 of the Statehouse Annex.
* Invite your colleagues to attend Legislative Day with you and carpool to the annex in Frankfort with them.
* RSVP to whitehouse@kyda.org identifying the names of colleagues attending from your component and you will receive a link to materials to prepare you for your visit to Frankfort.
* Be ready for a great day with colleagues and bring an appetite. Lunch is on us!

Most dentists I talk to have said the last few years have been tough ones in dentistry. So, if you believe things can be better for your profession, this is your chance to make it happen. If you think it can happen without your support, you’re mistaken. If the KDA is not well-represented at this important event, the wrong message could be sent to those making decisions on your behalf in Frankfort. Don’t miss a great opportunity to participate in an event so important to the future of dentistry.

I hope to see you in Frankfort on March 1st!

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