AGD members came together Oct. 29 in Chicago for the Advocacy Conference to share best practices in advocacy and legislative outreach to expand the organization’s impact with state and federal legislators. The main goal was to provide participants with key messages and tools, creating a consistent approach to working with leaders and agencies in their area.
“Before you can advocate successfully, you must understand the issues thoroughly and the ramifications of proposed policies,” explained Myron “Mike” J. Bromberg, DDS, chair of the AGD Legislative & Government Affairs Council. “Why? Because your opponents on these issues are well-prepared, well-versed, organized, outspoken and well-financed. Just saying ‘no’ doesn’t do it. You must have solid, cogent and legitimate reasons for your positions.”
In addition to encouraging AGD members to be active and engaged in legislative efforts, he asked participants and all AGD members to consider three steps that are critical to a lasting and successful legislative strategy:
- Call your local legislator and establish a continuing relationship with them. Make it clear that they can contact you at any time on issues related to oral health. Get to know their staffers, especially the person who answers the phone.
- Be active locally. Hold meetings. Talk with your colleagues. Share key messages with your staff and fellow AGD members as well as others in the dental community. Challenge them to think about the implications on the way we work and serve our patients.
- Recruit new members. The more members we have, the more powerful we become when working with legislative leaders. AGD is the only organization that represents the needs of general dentists, and we do it better than any other organization.
The AGD Advocacy Conference is held each year to shine a spotlight on issues impacting the industry and to evaluate opportunities for general dentists to serve as thought leaders and industry experts for those attempting to set policy. In addition to learning about individual issues, attendees learn about AGD resources to support advocacy efforts and best practices for meeting with legislators.
Illinois State Sen. John Curran, who serves as the minority spokesman on the Health Appropriations Committee, the Medicaid Subcommittee of the Illinois Senate Health Committee and on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, spoke to the group. He described his process for learning about issues impacting his constituents and how he wants to understand the pros and cons of a proposal. He reiterated the need to get to know your legislator and suggested creating a network of dentists who can go to meetings together.
The one-day event allowed members to fully explore key topics and how these specific policies and regulations would affect general dentists in their practices and how they provide patient care. Topics included:
- Use of artificial intelligence in claims processing, presented by Callan D. White, DDS.
- Medical loss ratio and Massachusetts’ Ballot Question 2, presented by Jay Fisher, JD, manager, AGD Government Relations.
- Federal and state regulatory advocacy, presented by Jeanie Kennedy, manager, AGD Dental Practice and Policy; Cindy Kluck-Nygren, manager, AGD Dental Practice; and Jay Fisher.
- Dental benefits in Medicare, presented by Richard A. Huot, DDS, FAGD.
- Federal updates, presented by Pat O’Connor, AGD federal representative, Kent & O’Connor.
- Dental insurance reform in Kentucky, presented by Darren S. Greenwell, DMD, FACD, FICD, MAGD.
- Updates on midlevel providers, presented by Spencer R. Bloom, DDS, and Louis C. Boryc, DDS, FAGD.
- Updates on the CDT, presented by Ralph A. Cooley, DDS, FAGD.
AGD Dental Practice Council Chair Joseph A. Battaglia, DMD, FAGD, provided an action plan for constituencies and encouraged the meeting’s participants to connect with members locally on how they should get involved in AGD’s advocacy efforts. “AGD is protecting the interests of general dentistry, and we must all be ready to take action by establishing relationships and being ready to activate on various issues as they arise,” stressed Battaglia.
Reminders to AGD members ready to get involved locally or at the state and federal levels:
- Learn how to advocate. AGD offers information to learn more about using your voice to protect the profession.
- Stay informed. Familiarize yourself with key issues impacting the industry. Read AGD’s Capitol Connections and AGD Today to learn more about current events impacting our profession and how you can get involved.
- Take action. AGD makes it easy for you to reach out to your legislators with talking points, email templates and more. Visit AGD’s Take Action Center regularly.
- Connect with other advocates. AGD has an open forum on AGD Connect for issues related to legislative and regulatory issues. If you want to join the community, please email AGDConnect@agd.org for access and instructions on joining this group.
- Get to know your legislators. As a general dentist, you provide important care to the communities you serve. You can be an important resource for legislators. Take some time to introduce yourself by phone or email. Visit their offices when you can to let them know you are accessible. These relationships are critical to establishing valuable dialogues on the issues general dentists are facing each and every day.
AGD has resources available to you online. For specific questions, contact the AGD Legislative and Advocacy team at email@example.com. The team is here to support you.
Consider supporting the AGD Advocacy Fund. The fund supports national and constituency advocacy efforts by providing resources to tackle new matters, such as legislation or legal action affecting the practice of general dentistry.
The fund accumulates across budgetary cycles, allowing AGD to act nimbly and substantially when the need arises. Contributing allows you to invest in the advancement and protection of general dentistry in the face of current challenges. The healthcare landscape is changing rapidly, but, with your support, AGD can face these challenges head-on.