Posts tagged D9sofine
What it's like to Lobby on the Hill with the ADA

Lobbying on Capitol Hill is one of the most unique activities that happens in Washington D.C. Each year, the House of Representatives and Senate write bills that are passed into law by the President. As the political climate in Washington regularly fluctuates, it is essential that constituents address issues with consistency. Two weekends ago, we saw this in action. Thousands participated in the Tibet National Lobby Day, AIDS Foundation Lobby Day and ADA Dental Lobby Day. All were welcomed and given the ears and time of their elected officials.

For the past two decades, the American Dental Association (ADA) along with the American Dental Political Action Committee (ADPAC) have advocated for the dental profession on Capitol Hill. They have ensured that core concerns that effect our profession, providers and patients are voiced to our legislators. This year, for the first time, the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) joined with the ADA and ADPAC to voice the current issues important to our profession together. We took the following issues to our legislators; The Competitive Insurance Reform Act, the Student Loan Programs under the Higher Education Act and Health Care Reform: Supporting Oral Health.  

This year, a week before our Lobby Day, we saw years of the ADA’s hard work pay off as the 115th House of Representatives voted a 428 to 6 majority on H.R. 372. This repealed the Mccarran-Fergussan antitrust laws for medical and dental insurance companies. Since 1945, insurance companies have been exempt from the McCarran-Fergussan antitrust laws which prohibits companies and business owners to discuss and set similar prices for their products and services. Greater federal involvement in antitrust enforcement should encourage more competition in the healthcare insurance marketplace. More competition will promote lower prices and greater consumer choices for all Americans purchasing medical and dental insurance. This week, we thanked members of Congress for supporting this bipartisan bill and urged our senators to support or even sponsor a sister bill so that it can be passed in the senate as well. 

Rising student debt for undergraduate and graduate students is a prevalent concern for many of us. This concern is being voiced on Capitol Hill.  In 2016, the average student debt for recent dental graduates was $262,119. That is a 5% increase of average dental student debt in 2014. The weight of student debt limits many graduates’ professional pursuits, especially those who want to serve in public service, teaching and research positions. As Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act this year, we continued to voice our concerns regarding student debt as we met with members of Congress. Currently, there is a sponsored bill, H.R. 1614, that would allow students to refinance their graduate student loans at anytime through out the life of their loan. This would make keeping our student loans with the federal government more appealing and could save graduates thousands on accruing interest. Currently, the interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan. This week we tried to gather more representatives support for H.R. 1614 so that it will pass when it reaches the House floor. 

Since the instatement of The Affordable Care Act (ACA) the uninsured rate for Coloradans has dropped from 14.7% to 6.7%. Additionally the recent medicaid expansion in Colorado, passed in May of 2013, expanded coverage to more than 200,000 Colorado residents. As a direct result we have seen the number of hospital dental visits go from $11 million dollars to $1 million dollars annually in Colorado. We want to continue this progress as the expanding coverage reaches many of our small towns in eastern Colorado and in the Western slope. This was emphasized to our representatives by our doctors who practice in these areas. As health care is a hot topic on Capitol Hill right now we also discussed the importance and need for dental insurance transparency. Our doctors from the CDA have seen many patients who sign up for dental insurance and find out they aren’t covered until they pay for 24 months of premiums. Overall, we advocated for more transparent dental insurance plans so that our patients know what they are purchasing and what to expect from us.   

During our Lobby Day we were able to visit all 6 of our district representatives and both senator’s offices to discuss the issues above. It was great to see the impact we could make on organized dentistry by voicing our concerns to our legislators! It made me proud that we are included in a profession that stands united in protecting and advocating for our patients and doctors!

Networking: Cut the Chitchat

Dental Conferences are like rushing for a sorority; endless small-talk and prattle of where you're from, what school you go to, what year you’re in, and what position you hold. It almost feels like a rapid-fire competition of who can ask the most questions and how quickly someone can fill those awkward silences (my favorite). At this point, I could probably say I’m a small-talk aficionado given that most of my extracurricular activities have involved this sort of interaction with people. However, I have slowly come to the realization that these kinds of conversations, although I do them mindlessly, leave me exhausted and apathetic. One of the beauties of student dental conferences is the myriad of networking opportunities. We have the ability to expand our little black book of contacts in the hopes of making connections with the people that will be in our future professional community.

Networking: “interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career” - Google

That last line has never sat well with me and I doubt anyone would like to be described as an opportunist or a carpetbagger. This type of “you scratch my back I scratch yours” mentality limits ourselves to the facts and figures of conversations instead of digging deeper to who we are as people. It seems that having one insignificant conversation with somebody and handing out our business cards like they’re Halloween candy will automatically put us in a position to ask for favors in the future.

Why does Networking only have to be small talk? Why can’t it also be big talk?

I understand that some people are uncomfortable with getting straight to the big questions right off the bat. But I will argue that you can definitely turn insignificant pleasantries into meaningful dialogue and part of it is getting over our fears of looking too inquisitive or intrusive. We all know what open-ended questions are; we do it with our patients all the time. Why can’t we do the same when networking?

This mentality may be in due part to my ENFP personality and my will to find the deeper meaning in anything and everything (I strongly encourage everyone to know their own Myers Briggs letters). I don't mean I will always try to have existential conversations or discuss the nature of the cosmos with every stranger, but I will absolutely try my best to leave an exchange of dialogue knowing something enticing about a new person. Opening-up and having a moment of feeling listened to will make a person much more likely to “do you a favor,” if that's what you’re looking for in networking. I know it sounds like common sense, but I challenge you to make an effort and skip the small talk when meeting a new person.

I decided to try this out at this year’s ASDA Annual Session with the first person I met, a foreign student who came to the USA at age 12 and also identifies as gay. Right after our exchange of names and schools and right before I asked him what year he was in, I stopped myself and went straight for it: “Tell me about your experience being in the LGBTQ community while going to school in Kentucky”. BOOM! He looked a bit taken aback by the question and I started regretting my decision. He tilted his head to the side, looked at the floor and started rubbing his chin. Suddenly, 30 minutes passed as he was telling me about a horrible but character- defining incident, the people in his life who stuck up for him, and how lucky he is to live in a city where he is much more accepted than the rest of the state and his native country. It was beautiful.

In the days that followed, we would happily run into each other and exchanged our excitement for the day’s itinerary. By the end of our time in Orlando we said our goodbyes, and as he hugged me for the last time he smiled and said, “if you ever need anything or if you’re ever in town, you always have a place to stay.” And that, to me, is real networking.

Annual Session 2017: A Brief Recap

Annual Session 2017 has come and gone. After five fervent days in Orlando of legislative meetings, resolution debate, emotional elections, and evening festivities, ASDA has launched itself into the year ahead. Here are some highlights from the week:

-Colorado took home the Gold Crown Award for Best Chapter Blog. 

-John Luke Andrew (Colorado '18) was elected District Nine Trustee. He'll oversee the dental schools from Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma.

-Houston ASDA became the new top dog with their well-deserved win for Ideal ASDA Chapter. Their very own Tanya Sue Maestas also became the new ASDA National President. District Nine continues its prolific reign (Colorado was last year's Ideal ASDA). #D9sofine

-Becky Bye (Colorado '18 and current Colorado Chapter President) authored and defended a resolution to unify all dental schools with one degree (eliminating either the DDS or the DMD). This topic will likely become a major player at future meetings. #1profession1degree

-The continual battle to remodel the licensure exam continues. The new Executive Counsel intends to make great strides in coming up with a system that benefits both the students and is mindful of the patients.

-Dr. Christian Piers (Colorado '16) concluded his influential and devoted service to ASDA with his role as this year's Immediate Past President. I'm sure we haven't seen or heard the last from Dr. Piers (and we certainly hope not).

-Nothing keeps Colorado from going to the beach. Even if it's hurricane-like rain. Worth it? Absolutely.

-Some of our members had the (mis)fortune of being stuck on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World. They were rewarded with an extended stay in the park and free rides. I don't think they were too upset...

Thank you to everyone who contributed to The Colorado Quickset over the past year. Colorado truly knows how to make the magic happen.