U.S. Representative Michael K. “Mike” Simpson, one of two dentists in the U.S. Congress, addressed attendees at the 2011 AADR-ADEA Deans’ Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill on Monday, April 4. He provided an insider's perspective from the vantage point of a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. In addition to analyzing the political dynamic surrounding the debate about approving a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open, Congressman Simpson shared his insights with regard to how new GOP members of the 112th Congress are influencing the heated debate over federal spending for fiscal year 2011.
He was clear in stating that funding for new oral health programs are in jeopardy in next year’s federal budget process. The Affordable Care Act (ACA)—health care reform—has many provisions that aim to improve oral health, but most still have to overcome annual funding hurdles imposed by Congress and the President. The 112th Congress will be particularly challenging, as new members of Congress have proposed deep cuts in federal domestic spending. Whether academic dental institutions maximize the funding available under the ACA is still an open question.
Mr. Simpson’s address was one of several key sessions during this year’s event. Dr. Gustavo D. Cruz, Chief of the Oral Health Branch, Division of Medicine and Dentistry at HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions, briefly addressed the new provisions in Title VII health professions programs in an engaging afternoon discussion.
The featured speaker for the day was Mr. Alex Castellanos. A frequent contributor to CNN, Huffington Post, and NationalReview.com, Mr. Castellanos shared with the audience his thoughts on what to expect from the new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives as the year progresses.
Other speakers during the day included Dr. Isabel Garcia, Acting Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR); Ms. Heidi Ann Ecker, Director of Government Affairs and Grassroots Programs, National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS); Dr. David Johnsen, Chair, AADR Government Affairs Committee; and Dr. Jeffrey Ebersole, President of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry.