You’re just practicing dentistry, so why do you need AzDA to advocate for you?
Every year Arizona representatives and senators (together called legislators) host a legislative session during in which new legislation or bills are submitted, considered, debated, and then voted on. This is the process whereby new legislation (aka bills) is introduced and considered. These bills, if voted into law, can significantly change how you practice dentistry. That might not sound like a big deal, but it is.
During each year’s legislative session, bills are introduced by third parties, interest groups, and outside entities, but these bills don’t often have your best interests, or that of your colleagues, at heart. If the introduced legislation (bill) receives enough support (“Yes” votes), it will become a law, which might force you to change how you run your practice in a way you don’t want to. Some bills can downright make your professional life miserable. For example, reduced reimbursement, more regulations on how you dispose of sharps, increased scope of practice for dental team members, etc.
So yes, like it or not, all this political “stuff” does matter if you’re practicing dentistry in Arizona. Even if you turn a blind eye to it, and want nothing to do with it, it still affects how you practice.
Because certain people/groups can really benefit or be hurt by a new bill that’s being considered, many third parties, interest groups, and outside entities, for example, insurance companies, invest a truckload of money by hiring political lobbyists who speak to Arizona legislators on THEIR behalf (hoping to encourage legislators to vote a particular way on a new bill).
You’ve probably already guessed that these third parties, outside interest groups, and insurance companies, often aren’t looking to improve dentistry in Arizona but look after their own interests, and it’s legal. It’s called “lobbying,” which is defined as, “a person or group engaged in trying to influence legislators or other public officials in favor of a specific cause.”
Take, for example, that not long ago, special interest groups tried to introduce legislation that would allow for a mid-level provider—someone who could perform irreversible dental procedures but who hadn’t attended one day of dental school. Scary, isn’t it? They hired high-powered expensive lobbyists to convince Arizona legislators that it was an “access to care issue.” In turn, AzDA, which was advocating for you, fought/argued against these lobbyists that a mid-level provider was not in the public’s best interest.
While AzDA was successful in advocating for you in this case, the truth is, every year there’s a chance new legislation (if voted “yes” on) will allow for government overreach, third-party intrusion, and insurance companies making it harder to practice dentistry.