The 2018 AAO Professional Advocacy Conference took place in Washington, D.C. May 8-9, with 150 members – a record number – in attendance. Among the participants were 44 orthodontic residents.

The Advocacy Conference program began on May 8 with intensive preparation for a day on Capitol Hill visiting legislative offices. Participants heard presentations from AAO staff and legislative counsel, as well as by guest speakers who included:

  • Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
  • Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL)
  • Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH)
  • Janice S. Lee, DDS, MD, FACS (Clinical Director at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research/NIH)
  • Michael Graham (Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs at the American Dental Association)

About a dozen additional legislators also stopped by a dessert reception that evening to greet AAO members.

The following day, teams of participants departed for Capitol Hill to meet with legislators and legislative staff to discuss key issues of concern to AAO members including AAO-supported legislation to reduce the student debt burden for orthodontic graduates.
and passage of the RAISE Act to increase the annual cap on Flexible Spending Account contributions.  The AAO directed its federal lobbyist in preparing the original draft of the Responsible Additions and Increases to Sustain Employee (RAISE) Health Benefits Act in order to increase the maximum dollar amount that orthodontic patients may use to help pay for treatment.

The efforts of the Advocacy Conference participants likely helped produce a positive result two months later, when the House Committee on Ways & Means approved a key element of the RAISE Act:  the elimination of the “use it or lose it rule,” under which employees forfeit their flexible spending account (FSA) balance at the end of the year.
Read More about the Ways and Means Committee Action on the RAISE Act

Participants Reacted Positively to the Advocacy Conference Experience 
The AAO will use the responses and comments from an in-depth evaluation of the 2018 Professional Advocacy Conference, that was completed by most participants, to guide planning of future conferences.  Among aspects of the conference rated by participants were the following:

● 85 percent of participants felt sufficient time was devoted to preparation for the Capitol Hill meetings.  (This year’s preparation was somewhat abbreviated due to the fact that the conference began at the conclusion of the 2018 Annual Session, which was May 4-8 in Washington, D.C.)

● 100 percent of participants rated the preparation materials that they received for the conference as excellent or good.

● 96.2 percent of participants believed that their participation in the conference helped them present the AAO’s positions.

● 74.6 percent participants plan to become more politically active in the future, including 76.9 percent at both state and federal levels and 20.5 percent at the state level.