The Articulate Dentist - A Blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society

Walking ADA Lobby Day in My Shoes

By: Lindsay Compton, DDS

DAY 1 – APRIL 7, 2024
Good morning, DC! ADA Lobby Day started by assembling all states including more than 1,200 dentists and dental students. This record attendance number created palpable energy in our sessions and around the Capitol. Our day began by choosing one of two lectures to attend. One discussed grassroots advocacy and why it matters on Capitol Hill. The other was a panel discussion about the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) which I attended and really enjoyed. I predict this to be the number one hurdle in dentistry along with passing meaningful third-party payer reform for the foreseeable future.

Next on the agenda was getting training on tips for speaking with legislators and best practices for effectively telling your story. This was extremely important when explaining the “why” to legislators and their staff in addition to the impact our initiatives can have on the profession and the public. Due to the large presence of dental students, several more lectures and networking time were opened to them and new dentists attending Lobby Day for the first time. As I spoke with dental students, I emphasized how important their voice was when talking to legislators because they are the future.

DAY 2 – APRIL 8, 2024
Day 2 started with an early 5:00am wake-up call to lace up my running shoes and join with my dental colleagues on a run to the Lincoln Memorial led by MDDS’s own, Dr. Brett Kessler, the ADA President-Elect. This was a great time to enjoy the sunrise over the National Mall and both figuratively and literally start the day off on the right foot. From there it was time to hustle to prepare for a full day.

The seminars on this day reviewed the legislative agenda and included volunteers from all states. Speakers provided an in-depth analysis of each bill we would be presenting. This was very helpful because when we visit each legislator, they expect us to be the subject matter experts on what is being discussed. We were then given a breakdown on how to meet with your members of Congress and how to effectively combine discussing the importance of the bills along with your story and the impact the legislation will have on their constituents and your patients.

During lunch, we broke up into groups to strategize. These groups evenly distributed tenured dentists, new dentists and dental students. Each group divided up the issues and then rehearsed talking points. Before we knew it, we were told it was time for our first appointment with Colorado Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennett.

There is a lot of walking during ADA Lobby Day. On average, I did eight miles a day. Granted this also included a morning run, but it’s much more than the few steps I get when I’m at my dental practice. Our visit with Senator Hickenlooper’s staff was more engaging than most. The staff member we talked to was well-versed in healthcare reform since she was a trained emergency physician pursuing higher education in public health. It allowed for wonderful questions and engagement that I hope was carried up to the Senator. We finished this meeting just in time to catch the solar eclipse. It was quite a site (and a special memory) to see everyone leave their Capitol offices to stand on the Capitol grounds and witness this celestial event. It was a beautiful day, and we couldn’t have been more fortunate to enjoy the springtime and the eclipse from such a memorable place.

DAY 3 – APRIL 9, 2024
I had never been to the Jefferson Memorial to see the cherry blossoms, so I stole some time from our busy schedule to clear my head and start this day with a scenic run.

We had quite a lineup of visits scheduled, and again, broke into groups according to geographic representation and experience. On our final day, we visited with Representatives Yadira Caraveo, Doug Lamborn, Joe Neguse, Diana DeGette, Jason Crow and Brittany Petersen. These visits involved walking between several buildings that surround the Capitol and the National Mall. This can be a nerve-racking process, let me set the scene: You walk in with your group and your well-rehearsed speech, but you have no idea what questions they will ask or their existing knowledge base. You fear they will ask you a question and you have no idea how to answer or where to start. Luckily the team at ADA is backing you up and when faced with a question you are
not sure about, you can simply hand them your card or the card of an ADA representative and let them know you will find the answer and be in touch.

One item that surprises me every time is how young and hard-working legislative staff are. It’s obvious they put in long hours and meet with different groups all day. I can’t imagine the amount of information they have to sift through and relay to their team and Senator or Representative.

The day wrapped up with a brisk walk back to the hotel and catching a taxi to the airport for my journey home. All in all, I walked 15 miles in 2 days! I’d highly recommend attending Lobby Day either in DC or Denver. It is amazing to see the dedication of the volunteers and CDA and ADA staff involved in the effort to improve the profession and the lives of our patients. Just bring some good walking shoes!

Lindsay Compton, DDS, is a general dentist and practice owner in Arvada, CO. She is a CDA past president, serves on the CDA Government Relations Council and currently chairs the CDA Third Party Payer sub-committee. She is also co-chair of the MDDS RMDC Programming Committee. Outside of dentistry, she enjoys all of Colorado’s outdoor activities with her husband, Jason, and their two dogs, Lola and Winnie.

The Articulate Dentist is a blog by the Metro Denver Dental Society, providing members with insight into the dental industry, practice management tips, tech trends and best practices as well as Society news and updates.