April 7, 2017
Marquette ASDA attended the first every combined student and dentist lobby day in full force with 9 student delegates. We joined the 9 dentists and 2 staff members from the Wisconsin Dental Association to charge the Hill (Capitol Hill that is). We were lucky enough to fly in early and experience the sights of Washington D.C. on Sunday, taking in everything from all the monuments to several Smithsonian museums to the National Cathedral. Sunday night all attendees gathered for a tailgate themed social with dentists and dental students from across the country. Of course we were all dressed in Marquette and Wisconsin garb!
Monday was a day filled with learning about the bills, other issues going on in Washington, how to lobby, and different perspectives on the new Administration. Seated by state in a National Convention style, Wisconsinites learned about and discussed the three topics we were lobbying: the Repeal of the McCarren-Furgeson Act, healthcare reform, and H.R. 1614, the Student Loan Refinancing Act. Tuesday, we headed to Capitol Hill to speak with almost every single Wisconsin Senator and Representative!
Luckily for us, the House of Representatives had passed the repeal of McCarren-Furgeson the previous week with overwhelming support. We thanked our representatives for their support and encouraged our senators to get the bill moving in the Senate. This bill would apply the same anti-trust laws that apply to all businesses to health insurance companies, which are currently exempt. Anti-trust laws would lead to fair competition among health insurance companies, hopefully creating a more competitive market and driving down consumer prices.
As healthcare reform is currently a work in progress, we simply discussed our ideals for dental coverage in whatever bill is formulated. Our talking points included complete dental coverage for children enrolled in Medicaid, emergency dental coverage for adults enrolled in Medicaid, and transparency in the insurance contracts as to whether or not they cover dental insurance. These points are extremely important for maintaining dental health among the public.
Our final topic was H.R. 1614, the Student Loan Refinancing Act, a bill introduced by Wisconsin’s own Representative Mark Pocan. This bill was near and dear to our hearts, as student loans were a concern for all present. This bill would allow student loans to be refinanced as many times as we would like if the interest rates go down. Refinancing would alleviate some of the burden of high student loans. After our discussions with our representatives, 3 more signed on to co-sponsor the bill! Be sure to visit ASDA Engage (http://cqrcengage.com/asda/home) to ask your representatives to sign on to this bill!
Our time spent in Washington D.C. was not only a wonderful learning experience for all attendees, but also truly made a difference in the direction of our future profession! Speaking to representatives and senators really does impact how they vote, and is the start of a lifelong relationship with our legislators. If you’re interested in getting more involved in advocating for our profession, contact Emma Roy!Subjects: Advocacy LegislativeCommittee Conferences