AGD recently welcomed a new lobbyist to support the organization’s legislative efforts. James “J.P.” Paluskiewicz, MA, with the law firm Alston & Bird, has been retained on behalf of AGD. Paluskiewicz worked for U.S. Representative Charlie Norwood, a Georgia dentist; lobbied for the American Dental Association; and served as chief counsel for the U.S. House Energy and Commerce.
In this tumultuous environment in Washington, with issues such as Medicare, Medicaid and insurance reform constantly evolving, AGD is very pleased that Paluskiewicz and his experienced bipartisan team at Alston & Bird will be there to advocate for general dentistry.
“This Week at AGD” asked Paluskiewicz the following questions:
“This Week at AGD”: What experiences do you bring to the job that will benefit AGD’s advocacy in D.C.? Are there any other details you’d like to share about your background and working with oral health leaders?
Paluskiewicz: I want to thank the leadership of AGD for selecting Alston & Bird (A&B) as your new partner in Washington, D.C., to aid in your federal advocacy efforts. By way of introduction, I am a senior policy advisor at the firm. Prior to joining A&B two years ago, I served nearly 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. I started my career serving as legislative director and health policy advisor for the late Rep. Charlie Norwood, DDS. I went on to serve as deputy chief of staff to Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, and then spent a decade serving the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over insurance, public health, Medicare and Medicaid, first as a professional staff member and then as chief health counsel and staff director for the subcommittee. I also spent two years at the American Dental Association focusing on advocacy efforts around Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. I will be leading a bipartisan bicameral team here at A&B on behalf of AGD, including former staffers and policy experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, White House, House and Senate, who will be able to leverage their experience, knowledge and relationships to further AGD’s federal advocacy efforts.
We are excited about this new opportunity and look forward to working with AGD!
What is AGD’s goal in lobbying Congress?
As the only dental association dedicated to the exclusive interests of general dentists, the largest segment of the dental profession, and as the second largest professional dental organization, AGD recognizes the important role it can play in advancing oral care for every individual. As the new firm working with AGD, our shared goals are to improve the climate for practicing dentistry through patient and policymaker education on the value of oral care and general dentistry. AGD is also committed to building, fostering and maintaining relationships in Congress and the Administration to establish itself as a resource for oral health care policy and as an advocate for all patients.
What are some of AGD’s legislative priorities in 2023?
AGD is committed to advancing access to oral health care and to educating Congress and the Administration on the important work of general dentists. To do so, AGD has several legislative priorities, including:
- Improving and expanding dental benefits and reimbursement under Medicaid;
- Excluding the inclusion of dental benefits under Medicare, and;
- Educating members of the public, particularly children, pregnant women, parents, older adults, people with disabilities, and racial and ethnic minorities, to increase oral health literacy and awareness through the Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act.
Additionally, as policy makers look at the issue of access to oral health care, the role of the dental profession must be front and center. AGD will advocate for approaches to improving access through a dental home team model of care where dentists coordinate a patient’s care. However, AGD understands that Congress is an ever-moving target and will carefully monitor additional opportunities to discuss issues of importance to oral health.
What do you see as the biggest challenges working with federal legislators this year?
This is a busy Congressional year, especially given the upcoming presidential reelection cycle next year. Congress traditionally moves much faster to address issues in the year prior to reelections. This year will be no different, with a number of public health programs covering issues from community health centers, children’s hospitals, federal opioid policy and pandemic preparedness all due to be reauthorized before the end of the year. Thus, one of the biggest challenges AGD will face will be in advocating our priorities among many other competing interests and issue areas. However, AGD is prepared for this challenge and will dedicate the time to creatively and efficiently build relationships, craft policy and advance our priorities.
How can AGD members support the organization’s goals?
As noted above, this year will be full of opportunities and challenges, and we strongly encourage each and every one of you to get involved and be an active member! There will be many opportunities to be involved in the advocacy and legislative activities AGD will take on this year. Additionally, we strongly encourage getting to know your Members of Congress and their staff. Building and maintaining these relationships is a team effort and will help ensure we are able to advocate our goals with as many Members as possible.
To get involved or learn more, visit AGD Advocacy or email email@example.com.