Over the past two years I’ve seen Virginia Dental Association members contribute less and less to VDA PAC. This concerns and confuses me- I just don’t get it. Advocacy has always been rated as one of the primary reasons for membership and the most important thing that the ADA and VDA does for member dentists yet, less than one third contribute to VDA PAC our Political Action Committee. Two thirds of our own members just don’t get it- and I can’t for the life of me understand why. So, being the logical person I know myself to be, I came up with a few reasons that come to mind:
Politics doesn’t affect dentistry so it doesn’t matter if we have friends in the legislature. Fact: like it or not, politics takes money. To get elected in this day and age, state Delegates/ Senators need to raise large sums of money. Last year some local Delegate races cost over $1,000,000 (for an office that pays $18,000 a year).
The insurance companies will leave us alone and won’t interfere with the doctor- patient relationship. REALLY? As a business owner, who is looking for legitimate and ethical ways to run a successful practice and offer the very best care to my patients, I don’t see the insurance companies as being helpful. What I do expect is for insurance companies to continue to:
- Pay less and less for covered services
- Cover less and less for patients who have insurance
- Deny more and more claims
- Erode the doctor- patient relationship
- Require more and more irrelevant information for claims
- Try to convince the public that “cheaper” is more important than quality care
This is what I am seeing- and so are you. Who will fix it? We are under constant siege. We must advocate for our patients to have the coverage they are paying for. We are organized and have an obligation to ourselves, our profession and our patients.
VDA PAC gives money to Republicans, and I’m a Democrat- or vice versa. VDA PAC does not give to or support either party. We represent the “TOOTH PARTY” and support those who support our beloved profession, regardless of which side of the aisle they sit on. We focus on what is important to the dental profession and the patients we serve, period. Historically, we’ve supported each party.
I don’t care. So who is looking out for your ability to practice dentistry the way you want to practice? Legislators make the rules that we must follow every day. They decide where and when you can open an office, whom you can treat, what materials you can use, how you dispose of those materials, and in general, what regulations you must follow. They make the decisions that affect everything you do directly and indirectly. You cannot afford to just allow legislators to make all the rules without input from your profession. The VDA and our lobbyists do that for you and me- EVERY DAY.
Someone else will do it for me. There is some truth there. Some of us do contribute yearly to VDA PAC and in large sums because we understand that maintaining this amazing profession is up to us, the dentists. We have to be our own advocates and the only way to do that is to support our PAC. We ask every dentist in Virginia to contribute at the Commonwealth Club level of $285 annually. If you can’t afford that, then pay $10, or $50, but be part of the solution or step it up, show the profession you really care and join the Apollonia Club at $1060. EVERYONE can do something.
There are no outside threats to dental care in Virginia. Really? Ever hear of mid-level providers? Or what about the threat of insurers mandating fees for procedures and services they don’t even cover? What about insurers selling your name to other insurers without you allowing it- or even worse, without you even knowing it. Do you think a lesser trained person (2-3 years of community college) is capable of providing dental care like you and I do? Are you willing to let that happen? Are you willing to let third-party payors seize control by assigning benefits for dental services and further eroding your doctor-patient relationships? Is that in the best interests of the patients who depend on you for quality care?
The bottom line: Do you have passion for your profession? Do you love being able to treat patients with as little outside interference as possible? Do you care what happens to future dentists? Do you want our fellow citizens to continue to have access the best dental care in the world? We are the ones here and now who can make a difference. It is up to us to move this profession forward, to keep it the number one profession in America. The alternative is apathy, and the result of apathy is that our profession does become a trade, and that we can no longer treat patients the way we want to treat them the way they deserve to be treated. We can make a difference. YOU can make a difference or we can sit by and watch our profession fall apart. I’m choosing to make a difference. Won’t you join me to make a difference in our profession’s future? Contact Laura Givens at firstname.lastname@example.org to make a contribution today. By doing so, you are making a difference and helping to shape the future of dentistry!