Nevada Oral Health Legislative Day
March 23, 2017
A sincere thank you to my Oral Health Nevada Board members, who devoted their time and energy to making our legislative day a wonderful success. Many of these individuals wear multiple hats within the health care arena and their service to our state should not go unnoticed. I am so grateful to know and work with these amazing individuals: Syd McKenize, Cathy Davenport, Wendy Madison and Pam Straley.
Also, I would like to recognize and appreciate our Coalition partners, State Oral Health Program Staff and volunteers whose participation was vital to our success. Thank you to: Future Smiles’ Terri Chandler, Jan Taylor from S. NV and Annette Worley and Norma Espinoza, from Lyon County; Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association and Nevada Dental Benefits; Dr. Capurro, State Dental officer and Judy White, State PHDH; numerous organizational partners; Volunteers – Christine Openshaw, Yvonne Flynn and Mary and John Liveratti. In addition, I am so thankful to all the individuals behind the scene whose wealth of knowledge and input were so freely contributed so that we could educate our law makers on the importance of Oral Health in our great State of Nevada.
Oral Health Nevada
The 2017 Oral Health Legislative day event was held Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 kicking off shortly after 8 am with a continental breakfast provided by the Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association. Room 311 in the Legislative Building with its large glass wall looking out to the Sierras provided the perfect space for hosting a breakfast and luncheon as well as showcasing information and posters ranging from general oral health to oral cancer, the recent RAM events, water fluoridation, sealant programs and the Adopt-a-Vet program. Fresh tulips on each table added a warm and welcome atmosphere encouraging attendees to circulate and engage in conversations with coalition members.
Due to the nature of legislative sessions in Nevada, high flexibility is needed to accommodate the ever changing schedule of the legislators during the 120 days of the session. Pam Straley, of Oral Health Nevada, did a wonderful job scheduling and in many cases rescheduling one-on-one appointments between individual coalition and community members and their individual legislators. Through her efforts, we ensured stakeholders from the North, South and Rural parts of the state were able to connect with their representatives, letting them know why Nevada’s Oral Health Matters. The Coalitions’ presence at the legislature was enhanced with Syd McKenzie and Jan Taylor having the privilege of sitting on the floor with their representative and having our organization and event read into the record.
Branding our message has been highly effective in name recognition and relationship building among legislators and their staff. In January save the date emails were sent to all legislators. Then a month prior to the event, invitations were hand delivered to each legislative office. Often, we were only able to meet with the staff person assigned to the legislator, but this provided an opportunity to establish a relationship with the person that works closely with the legislator and has their ear on many subjects. The invitation to the luncheon was extended to staff, if the representative could not attend, providing another opportunity to strengthen relationships and provide visual experiences to take back to the legislator.
At lunch time the event kicked into high gear with over 60 individuals attending our event. Several Assembly and Senate members, legislator staff, lobbyists and friends to oral health were greeted by Coalition members to engage in conversations, answer questions and listen to concerns and input. Also in attendance was Dr. Antonia Capurro, State Dental Officer and Judy White, State Public Health Dental Hygienist which gave attendees the opportunity to meet with and ask questions about their duties and why their positions are important for the citizens of our State.
During the presentation portion of the event Dr. Capurro and Judy White gave a brief State of Oral Health in Nevada update and then went over the extensive and impressive list of activities they have been able to accomplish during the short period of time they have been in the Oral Health Program. Thank you again to these two dynamic women.
The remainder of our program was dedicated to recognizing Oral Health Nevada’s 2017 Oral Health Heroes, Assemblywoman Amber Joiner and Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton. Assemblywoman Joiner was recognized for her dedication to public health and for her proposed legislation, AB193 focused on bring community water fluoridation to Washoe County. Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton was recognized for her long time efforts to ensure access to dental care through her legislative work supporting Public Health Dental Hygienists and access to restorative care.
Following the presentation portion of the day, a group of Coalition members hand delivered educational packets to every legislator who was not able to attend the event or who had not met with individual constituents. General feedback from legislators and staff was centered on how much they appreciated our event and the information that we provided. The event focused on supporting the recommendations of the Advisory Committee for the state oral health program (AC4OH) – continue funding of the two dental positions within the oral health program and expand adult Medicaid dental benefits to include preventive services.
As of the time of this report, the budget still contained funding for the Dental Officer and the Public Health Dental Hygienists positions as well as some limited funding to support the oral health program duties. Per Administrator, Cody Phinney, information concerning the status of the Medicaid expansion is embargoed as it is considered to be connected to the Medicaid Dental RFP currently still in process.
The Nevada Dental Association efforts to lobby in favor of Assemblywoman Amber Joiner’s (co-sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Spinkle) community water fluoridation bill AB193 unfortunately were unsuccessful as AB193 died in committee April 14, 2017.