On April 13, a group of GSDM students headed to the State House for Beacon Hill Day 2011. On this day each year MDS relies on its dentist and student members to come together at the Massachusetts State House and explain the importance of oral health to legislators.
"Beacon Hill Day was a great opportunity to meet with legislators and discuss the issues,” said Ana Serrenho DMD 13. “Participating in the day allows the dental community to take some of the power back by working with lawmakers to rein in insurance policies that negatively impact quality of care and the ability of a dentist to make a living."
Amit Patel DMD 12 added, “I found lobby day to be a great event, where not only do we get to meet the legislature and educate them on dental-related legislation, but we also get to participate in a great networking event.”
This year’s Beacon Hill Day focused on two important issues: Senate Bill 409 & House Bill 323, which if enacted will prevent dental benefit companies from setting fees for non-covered services; and the MassHealth Adult Dental Benefit, which Governor Patrick has recommended cutting by $56 million. MDS believes it is critical that legislators maintain full funding in the fiscal year 2012 budget.
After learning about the issues, students visited legislators in their offices to explain why these issues are important.
"It was really great to see how the legislative process works in this state,” said Olga Krikunenko DMD 12. “Meeting with congressmen, senators, and chiefs of staff was really enlightening. I now have a better understanding of how bills and laws get passed and how the Mass Dental Society helps to fight for the rights of dentists and dental professionals."
Seth Caldon DMD 12 added, “I was surprised to find how little the congressmen knew of the bills we wanted passed, but was impressed that they wanted to learn more."
Sonja Evans DMD 13 also said, "Members of MDS were very appreciative that BU had such a large turnout of students. MDS president Dr. John Fisher told us that legislators listen to students more than professionals on these issues. Having us lobby with them gave legislators a different perspective on the issues."