National Dental Student Lobby Day: my first national meeting and what I would consider the beginning of my involvement with ASDA. Attending what is considered the most influential annual meeting that ASDA holds every year was an honor, and I’m glad to be able to attend again this year. This is an event where over 400 students from schools nationwide come together to lobby about important issues in organized dentistry as a unified voice, seeing that changes occurring in the profession are brought about by the ones who know it best: dentists and dental students.
As the newly appointed vice president of Colorado ASDA and first legislative liaison, it is my responsibility to relay information and updates about any current issues in dentistry. This entails being up-to-date on current legislation that could pass, or has passed, in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Although these are my duties as the first legislative liaison, it is in everyone’s interest to remain engaged during the legislative process involving these issues because decisions made in the coming years will affect all of us within the profession. While I’m not expecting everyone who reads this to try and set up meetings with legislators (frankly I’m happy you’re still reading), I would like people to be informed with what is going on in the world of organized dentistry, and what issues we are lobbying for in DC this Tuesday. Mid-level providers, access to care, licensure, and student debt are a few considerable issues that are of concern. Student debt and access to care specifically are the two that ASDA has decided to focus on at National Lobby Day this year. Two bills aimed at helping lower student debt are H.R. 649 (Student Loan Refinancing Act) and H.R. 4223 (Post Grad Act). The Student Loan Refinancing Act would allow graduates to refinance their student loans if a lower interest rate becomes available down the road. The Post Grad Act would make it much easier to get subsidized student loans while in school, meaning that students would not accrue interest while in school as well as for six months post-graduation. If both of these bills were to pass, students would have the potential to save tens of thousands of dollars! The third bill that will be lobbied for on Tuesday is H.R. 539 (Action for Dental Health Act of 2015) and addresses the access to care issue. The Action for Dental Health Act of 2015 would allow programs such as Mission of Mercy (MOM) and Give Kids a Smile to apply for readily available funds (around $15 million) that the CDC has set aside for public health projects. This bill is an amendment to the Public Health Service Act due to its current exclusion criteria regarding what sort of organizations can apply for these funds.
Albeit somewhat brief, this is what is going on in the world of organized dentistry at the current time! It would not surprise me if most of this information is foreign to you, but I hope that this new knowledge you now possess will motivate you to stay informed on the current issues in our profession.