The Statue of Liberty stands proudly in New York Harbor. It stands as the universal symbol of freedom and democracy. This symbol stands for what makes our country great.
I love the practice of dentistry. I love the freedom that it offers us.
We have the freedom to cooperatively treat our patients, helping them achieve their goals in a predictable and satisfying manner. Patients are free to choose to go to any dentist they like. Dentists are free to choose to treat anyone they like and do any procedures that they like and vice- versa. As a result of these freedoms, we are an example of a free-market healthcare system that works.
Our professional autonomy (freedom), however, isn’t free. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” The values of the profession must be actively upheld by us — the practicing dentists. If we are not diligent and stand for what is best for our patients, our profession will no longer be autonomous.
Author Peter Drucker said in the ’70s, “Those that are content to rise with the rising tide will also fall with it.” And when it falls, if we did nothing to better and preserve our work, we have no right to complain. In other words, if we are passively riding the waves, we will have no choice but to accept our fate when the wave crashes.
We are responsible to serve the needs of our communities. We have an obligation to stand up for the individuality of our practice philosophies. Our uniqueness is what makes our practices special and attractive to our patients. We cannot let outside entities influence our standards, our ethics and our decisions. We do what is best for our patients because it is in their best interest.
This past year, Colorado has introduced an adult Medicaid benefit to our state. They have allocated over $100 million to provide these services to those who are eligible. It is estimated that over 300,000 adults are now eligible for this benefit. The CDA worked closely with legislators and the governor’s office to create this benefit. As dentists, we directly witness the impact that dentistry has on those who need it.
We improve oral and overall health, we restore function, and we provide smiles.
We continue to fight hard to shape the benefits and make sure that our communities have access to our finest care. Our communities need Medic- aid providers to serve this need. We understand that the system is a work in progress, and are working daily on your behalf to address concerns to help the system run much smoother in coming weeks and months.
At the same time, we have the responsibility to provide care to Medicaid patients. Currently, there is extensive discussion among policy- makers and the public regarding gaps in Colorado’s dental health. If we are to make the case to the public that qualified dentists are the answer to access concerns, then it is incumbent on our profession to step up to the plate.
The fate of our profession is in our hands. “With freedom comes responsibility.”
Author Jim Collins wrote, “No matter how much the world changes, people still have a fundamental need for guiding values and sense of purpose that give their life and work meaning. They have a fundamental need for connection to other people, sharing with them the common bond of beliefs and aspirations. They have a desperate need for a guiding philosophy. More than any time in the past, people will demand operating autonomy - freedom plus responsibility - and will simultaneously demand that the organizations of which they are a part of stand for something.” We take this statement seriously.
What does the Colorado Dental Association stand for? The CDA is advancing oral healthcare to our communities — in the best way possible. It is here to support its members so we can provide the best, most appropriate dentistry to our patients.
Recently, the Colorado Dental Political Action Committee (CODPAC) met with 40 state legislators and candidates individually. It was an extensive task that involved hundreds of volunteer hours and immense coordination. The purpose of this endeavor was to further our relationships with key influencers, educate the legislators on our issues, and then strategize our legislative agenda.
We sent them information about key legislative priorities and our objective to make it as easy as possible for dentists to deliver the best possible care to our communities. We dialogued about possible solutions regarding these subjects: increasing Medicaid reimbursements, improving student loan forgiveness programs, dental insurance reform and preventing the introduction of a new mid- level dental provider in our state.
The legislators seemed genuinely impressed with our ideas, our passion and our mission.
The hard work that we have been doing over the past several years resulted in several congratulatory statements of support by the legislators. Respect for our profession has greatly improved. Today legislators look at us as experts to help guide and shape policy around oral health and oral health care delivery. But if we don’t fulfill our obligations, our influence will be gone.
Thank you to our CODPAC colleagues representing us. Thank you to our members for contributing to CODPAC and the American Dental Political Action Committee (ADPAC). These dollars are the best investment that you can make to preserve the freedom that we have. Please tell your communities how important it is to get involved either with monetary or voluntary contributions. Remember, we all must do our part in giving to the profession.
On the west coast there is a proposal to build another statue. This one is being called the statue of responsibility (http://statueofresponsibility.com).
It will symbolize this notion that freedom isn’t free. We are responsible for setting the standard and delivering the finest oral healthcare in this state. We take this seriously and by our actions, we will continue to enjoy our freedoms.
If you would like to make a donation to CODPAC/ADPAC please contact the CDA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-740- 6900 or 800-343-3010.
Thanks for reading! BK
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Thanks for reading! BK