For Immediate Release
Date: Feb 17th, 2011
Contact: Dr. John Thompson
Dr. Andy Elliott for President-elect of the American Dental Association
On October 13, 2010, 900 beautifully crafted pamphlets were placed on the seats of the delegates, alternate delegates, and delegation officers at the ADA House of Delegates in Orlando. Only those who are delegates cast votes representing the entire American Dental Association membership. These pamphlets announced that O. Andy Elliott is a candidate for ADA Presidentelect in 2011. This action will very likely change the life of a successful small town family dentist from eastern Kentucky for the next three years and beyond. The decision was not made in a vacuum - the preparation that had taken place and the quest that follows is what I want to share with you. I was able to catch Andy in Lexington on a snowy Saturday afternoon on his way to catch a plane to Chicago. He was able to find time to provide us this interview for KDA TODAY.
KDA TODAY: What makes you uniquely qualified to be an ADA President-elect candidate?
My passion for serving this profession and our association.
My years of service in the House of Delegates have given me the history and perspective of the membership, and the directive to communicate fully with the house.
My time as Vice-President has given the procedural and organizational framework to lead the board proactively.
My real-world experience in dealing with the issues that affect us in our practices and the practical wisdom that imparts. I dont just know about expanded function assistants, Medicaid issues, third-party down coding and non-covered services, OSHA and waste water regulations and many other issues, but I deal with their effects every day.
My service as preceptor for dental students and as part-time faculty and advisory chair of an innovative rotating dental hygiene program.
My ability to achieve consensus and work with varying sides on an issue to arrive at a solution.
My recognition and respect of others abilities and delegation of duties to those best prepared to accomplish the task.
I actually am a product of our associations proactive initiatives. The ADA recognized in the 80s the need to gain the perspectives and insight of young dentists to help membership market share in this age group. The formation of that board committee involved many more young dentists at all levels of the tripartite. Later changed to the New Dentist Committee, opportunities for greater participation in leadership were created and barriers to those positions were eliminated. The networking and mentoring with other national leaders and the ADA leadership was priceless. I benefitted from guidance and direction of leaders like Lange, Dugoni, Rainwater and Whiston - I served with many others as liaison to several councils as chair of the CND (Committee on the New Dentist) and while serving on the board. The communication, both across councils, with the liaison arrangement and nationally with the CND network, was an asset for the entire association and impressed upon me the importance of informing everyone to the same extent. Those experiences helped to instill the drive for service to this association.
KDA TODAY: You are one of the very few candidates for ADA President-elect that has run for office while not currently serving as a seated board member. This is unique. Will you comment on this?
Yes John, we have generally had candidates for President-elect from the Board of Trustees, either from the trustees, treasurer or speaker. Now Vice-Presidents serve two years on the board and I believe become qualified to assume the office of President-elect. I understand two other candidates have run as non-seated board members, one who had been a trustee and ran the year following his completed term on the board, and another who ran from the floor of the house. The House of Delegates has addressed the conflicts that can arise when a seated trustee runs for President-elect. It has been stated that a candidate is not as effective serving their trustee responsibilities while campaigning, due to travel and political conflicts with decision making. As a candidate from the House of Delegates, but having served on the board, I can devote my energies to the campaign fully informed and deal with issues openly and directly without political constraints on my decisions.
KDA TODAY: Do you think your absence from the Board of Trustees for the past two years will have any effect on your ability to serve as an officer?
I feel with the increased communication between the board and the house I will be well informed as to the issues and decisions affecting our association. We also petitioned the board to allow attendance by any President-elect candidate at board meetings and the vote on that request was successful. This will additionally give me the flavor and demeanor of discussions at the board level.
KDA TODAY: Andy, serving as President-elect and President of the ADA is a tremendous honor, but it involves a tremendous sacrifice. Why do you want to be President of the ADA?
I have always tried to follow the advice of my grandfather, who told me, "If you arent going to be involved, dont complain. I have tried to be involved with our profession to improve it for the patients we serve. I feel we are at a critical point in the profession. If we dont proceed proactively and quickly to address the assaults on our profession we will be relegated to a trade or we may become the next medical mid-level provider. I feel the needs and perspectives of the practicing dues-paying member have been lost at the national level. We concentrate on advocacy at the legislative level, but we can do more to advocate for the member in their offices. We have many programs that are expected to filter down from the ADA, but we dont accept ideas from the state and local level and allow them to flow upward and then be distributed nationally. We spend dues dollars through 211 East Chicago Avenue without seeing if Main Street in Kentucky or elsewhere has a more cost-effective means to accomplish the same goal. The tripartite is one of our greatest strengths, but also can be one of our greatest obstacles. We must improve communication across all levels and within the association. This is no time for secrets; we have to be open and not ashamed of our various opinions, but work to find common solutions. We must stand united. I want to facilitate these changes for our association and my fellow members.
KDA TODAY: A year as President is a short time. What do you expect to accomplish for the members of the ADA?
It is true a year as President is short, but one also has the President-elect year to initiate improvements and policy suggestions. I want to work with the board and house to facilitate the association in focusing on members needs and initiate programs to improve the success of our members. We must understand; our consumer is the member dentist and if we dont address their needs we will not maintain our majority market share. We will fail to be recognized as the voice of dentistry and will then no longer be effective as Americas leading oral health advocate. We have forgotten that the member dentist is who advocates for the patients we serve. An offensive plan for addressing the demographic changes within the association and to address real-world solutions to the barriers to care our patients face must be formulated. Trust and collaboration must be re-established between the board, the house and our staff in Chicago.
KDA TODAY: What do you see as the single most important problem ADA members face today?
Its hard to identify one problem, as there are many, and they are, I believe, different for the member/profession than for the association. For the profession, the intrusion of outside entities into decisions affecting the delivery of dental care to our patients is a major threat. This includes under-educated, non-dentist providers performing procedures that should only be performed by a dentist. We must not compromise our stance on surgical/irreversible procedures. Surgical/irreversible procedures should only be performed by a dentist who is educated to know the why, along with the how. A second tier of care is not acceptable for the needy/underserved patient population in this country. Our association is also challenged with solving the changing demographics of our retiring baby boomers and the growth of corporate dentistry.
KDA TODAY: How would you go about addressing these problems?
First, we must develop an offensive plan across the association to address access which should more accurately be addressed as barriers to care. As a profession, we must formulate and present our plan to like-minded groups and collaborate with them to educate legislators. We must tell the profession's story of philanthropy, donated services, and charitable care, and showcase what dentists routinely do to extend care to the less fortunate. We must highlight the success of prevention in dentistry and promote this aspect for stemming the tide of disease, especially for underserved populations. It has been said that we cant drill our way out of the problems of rampant dental disease, and the lack of access to care, and I agree. Unfortunately, we likely have lost a generation to the ravages of dental disease, but we cannot allow this trend to continue. We must better educate the population, and support the public health infrastructure to do what it was intended to do - serve as the safety net for the underserved. Further, collaboration within the tripartite on effective solutions to the complex issues of serving Medicaid patients must be a priority.
We must develop out-of-the-box strategies to recruit corporate dentists into our membership. We must do a better job at being relevant to new graduates and show them value for their dues dollars; long gone are the days of a journal and good insurance rates retaining our membership. We must catch up with other groups and lead in the use of technology for communication. We must increase collaboration with our fellow associations to prevent duplication of member services. We must have a plan to address retiring baby boomers who were the joiners of our association.
KDA TODAY: What other issues do you believe will shape the future of this organization?
Expanding technology and the role of social networking and the internet as a source of dental information.
The cost and type of dental education for our new graduates and faculty shortages.
Third party companies misleading patients and restricting their benefits, purely for corporate profit.
KDA TODAY: What do your family, your staff and your friends think of this candidacy?
They are all aware of my passion for serving our association and are very much supportive of my candidacy. I sought the council of my minister before making this decision and he said to me, This is who you are and if you do not do this, you will always look back with regret. The more I wrestled with the challenge of the opportunity, the more things seem to fall into place. My daughter, who is a student at Hofstra University majoring in business and marketing has grown up attending dental meetings and is a great recruiter for the ADA. She told one of her college friends in dental school that he must join the ADA because, Its the professional thing to do. I agree and I want to make sure the ADA continues to be the association that professionals join.
KDA TODAY: Andy, in Kentucky we all know you. We know you did not enter this election thinking you would do other than win. What will you be doing to make this happen?
I do have every intention of completing a successful campaign. I have gone through the caucus visit process as a VP candidate and I represented the membership well as their Vice-President. I initiated the VP communiqu as a tool to better inform the house and membership. I have served in the House of Delegates over 16 years, and I have the perspective of the practicing general dentist. I bring a history of leadership at every level of our association. I will answer members questions with my viewpoint and not waver due to political pressure, but will listen to debate and be willing to accept others opinions. I am open to compromise when issues are not in conflict with time-proven, core principles or lead to detriment to our profession or the patients we serve. I will take a stand on issues and support our principles, not giving in to uninformed groups with unproven positions. I will meet with as many of the delegations and states as I can and listen to their concerns so the two-way communication can begin, and a constructive and beneficial relationship ensues. A well-informed membership is critical, but a member-focused President-elect is a must.
KDA TODAY: ADA election process campaigns are not conducted without cost. How are funds being raised to finance this effort and how can we in Kentucky and the ADA Sixth Trustee District help.
The ADA has worked to lower campaign costs. There is now a common reception for all candidates at the ADA Meeting and candidates share the cost of that reception. However, the next meeting is in Las Vegas and therefore the cost will be higher than normal and this year there are only two candidates to share that cost. There were four this past year. Candidates now only travel to meetings or venues where both candidates can attend, and this will reduce travel cost. My campaign manager, Dr. Beverly Largent, has projected our campaign cost to be between $110,000 and $125,000 for the entire campaign. Fund raising has gotten off to a very good start. My component society, Kentucky Mountain, has already given $10,000 and they have challenged all other KDA Components to match this sum. I am pleased that the Greater St. Louis Dental Society, the Louisville Dental Society and the Missouri Dental Association have also given or pledged $10,000 each, as has the Tennessee Dental Association. Beverly has scheduled a number of speaking engagements and my campaign committee has been very generous in their personal support of this campaign. You might want to ask Beverly for additional information about how our members can help make this a very successful campaign.
Dr. Beverly Largent provided KDA TODAY the following comment:
I challenge each of you personally to support Dr. Elliott's campaign for President-elect. This is a wonderful opportunity for Andy, as well as for all of us in the Sixth Trustee District. While this is an exciting time, a campaign for President-elect is daunting, especially given the budget and the restrictive campaign rules. Our initial funding has been an overwhelming support as Andy has stated. We do need a united effort to last until next October. Andy will need to make several trips to spread the word of his campaign, and as he has also mentioned, the cost of the final meeting is staggering. Please send a strong message with your dollars to the "Andy Elliott Campaign for President-elect to Todd Edwards at the Kentucky Dental Association, 1920 Nelson Miller Parkway, Louisville, KY 40223-2164.
Thank you for your support.