Dear Fourth District Members,
Wow and phew! I am glad the presidential election is over. 2016 was a particularly turbulent year socially and politically in America. Whomever you voted for, we wholeheartedly hope for stability and success for our citizenry and country. In times of quiet reflection, I find comfort in the stability of dentistry as a profession and particularly the Fourth District Dental Society. I want to thank Seth Farren for serving as President of the Fourth District Dental Society this past year which was a very successful year. I also wish to thank Lynn Martin who has done a fantastic job as our Executive Director.
I am reminded of and thankful for the advocacy of past Presidents of the Fourth District Dental Society and the challenges they faced. Challenges facing dentistry today are different. Dentistry is currently challenged by an opportunistic and activist Governor and legislature, challenged by the insurance industry, and challenged by an increasing number of dental schools and graduates. This is best summarized by the current President of the New York State Dental Association, Dr. Richard Andolina, “it is always necessary that we work to protect our profession from political foes and regulatory measures that threaten to damage or alter the livelihood of our colleagues”. Those of us who have met Dr. Andolina know him to be a fierce advocate for dentistry and he encourages all of us to join him.
Please watch the NYS legislative agenda this spring. There will be another legislative push to extend the statute of limitations. Regarding this point, I need not be obtuse. This is motivated and driven by trial lawyers and will not improve dental care. This legislation will only drive up insurance costs for all of us while creating a huge industry for trial lawyers. The dental community motivation is best summarized by the mission statement of the Fourth District which begins “The mission of the Fourth District Dental Society shall be to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry…………” With these words in our mission statement we hold the higher argument and on legislative issues such as this, we need to direct, lead, and guide.
You might ask what you can do to advocate for dentistry. First, I suggest getting familiar with the names, phone numbers, and addresses of local legislators. Dentists are smart, highly educated, goal oriented individuals. As a group we are well respected community leaders and, I believe, will be listened to and acknowledged by our local elected government officials. What else can you do? Individuals can be more easily manipulated and controlled by insurance companies and regulations. As a politically active group we can be a force. Please get to know every other dentist in your town, community, and region. Attend local meetings, regardless of the topic, and get to know each other as individual practitioners facing the same pressures in our daily practice. Last, be sure to contribute to our political action committees, specifically EDPAC, ADPAC, and MLMICPAC. They are at the frontline and are the first to know and alert us of pending legislation. I am thankful for their vigilance.
In closing, I am reminded in this past presidential election year of the inauguration of our 35th President 56 years ago. Late in President Kennedy’s speech his prose is especially poignant at this time “……….ask what you can do for your country.” With a bit of a literary bridge this can apply to our profession today. Now is the time to join Dr. Andolina and become an advocate for dentistry.
Richard J. Hoskinson, DDS