I encourage you to reflect on our obligation to the dental profession and the specialty of pediatric dentistry. Allow me to share my views with each of you about the AAPD PAC. The funds that we contribute to the AAPD PAC allows our specialty to achieve more than its share of support from our government. In 1997, the first year that I started going to Washington as the Academy’s Congressional liaison, pediatric dentistry had 180 first year training slots in the various post-graduate programs in the U.S. Today, we have over 350 slots. The main impetus for that increase has been from the Title VII funds appropriated by Congress and administered by the Health Resources and Services (HRSA) with direction from Congress. To date, we have received over $33 million from Title VII for our programs.
These funds have been provided because Congress believes in our goal of taking care of the children. The different members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives are directly responsible for appropriating these funds because of the personal relationships that we have built over the years. All of us would rather deal with people we know rather than strangers, and our PAC funds have enabled us to get into offices that we could not visit otherwise. We help the members of Congress with their need for campaign funds, and we are afforded an opportunity to talk directly with them about the unmet dental needs of the children of our country. Once our facts are presented, we usually receive the support that we request. To put it bluntly, if we cannot get an audience with a member of Congress, then we cannot ask for their support of our programs.
The AAPD PAC was started in 2001 and, since then, has received more than $1.5 million from our members. In 2009, we have received contributions from 1,115 members.When we look at who is contributing to our PAC, we realize that about 20 percent of our members are carrying the load for everyone. We need to do better for the good of pediatric dentistry. If we are to continue to be "the mouse that roared" on Capitol Hill, more of us will need to dig deeper into our checkbooks for the AAPD PAC. Investing in your PAC is simply good business. Look at what we have contributed to date ($1.5 million) and what we have received from Title VII ($33 million). Any of us would be glad to have an investment that showed that much appreciation! Please re-examine your priorities and put your AAPD PAC high on your list of contributions. Pediatric dentistry needs your support! Let all of us endeavor to leave the woodpile higher than we found it.