Discussions with Decisionmakers: Senator Dan Roberts

Discussions with Decisionmakers: Senator Dan Roberts

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself – Primary occupation? Interests? Hobbies?

Growing up, my family moved around a good bit, and we lived as far north as Buffalo, New York, and as far south as Mobile, Alabama. That said, I finished high school in Birmingham and went on to Auburn University where I obtained a degree in Building Science Construction. Following undergrad, I worked in construction for Blount International and worked in South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

I returned to the U.S. to obtain a Masters Degree in Real Estate Development and Urban Affairs from Georgia State. In graduate school, I started our own company doing international trading in South Korea and Pacific Rim countries. I started a real estate sales and development firm based in Birmingham, which I continue to do today.

As far as hobbies go, our seven grandchildren (from our three sons) take up most of our free time my wife and I might have. We enjoy hunting, fishing, and farming, and are blessed to have developed a Treasure Forest and tree farm in central Alabama.

2. What first prompted you to consider running for your Senate District seat and how do you believe your background and experiences help you serve in the legislature?

From an early age I have had an interest in politics and policy. From serving on the Student Government Association in both high school and at Auburn, as well as holding positions in organizations like Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Campus Outreach Brazil, I have a passion for being involved.

In addition to my background in real estate development and international trade, I have also invested in various companies and served on various boards across Alabama. All of these experiences have given me a unique outlook on cultures and markets and, in turn, a unique outlook on legislative policy.

3. During the last legislative session, you were a leading voice in bringing awareness to the need for expanding access and funding for telemedicine in Alabama.  Tell us a little about why this issue is so important to you. 

I’ve been fascinated with the field of medicine nearly my entire life. Not only does healthcare play a major role in my district, I also have many friends and family who work in the healthcare sector.

As far as telemedicine goes, I really was not aware on the impact this type of technology plays (and can play) in healthcare until I was elected to the Alabama Senate. While telemedicine has always been out there, I had never thought of it as a legislative opportunity to help address healthcare needs and disparities.

4. This pandemic has led to the rapid expansion and adoption of telemedicine both statewide and nationally. How do you believe it’s impacted Alabama patients and do you foresee these changes become permanent?

The rapid expansion of telemedicine has given physicians another tool in their tool chest to provide quality care to patients throughout the state. Still, we must ensure that the strides made during this pandemic – both for telemedicine and healthcare in general – do not diminish. To do this, we must ensure that physicians are adequately reimbursed for telemedicine visits if we are going to see this adoption remain and grow. We must also expand our broadband connectivity access to all areas of the state.

We are at the infancy of Telemedicine in our country. I believe that with the right vision and adoption we will see explosive growth in technology, patient adoption, Physician and patient benefits which will result in better patient health, cost savings, a more efficient health care delivery system. We will all be amazed in 2030 with what we have accomplished in Telemedicine.

5. If you could change one thing about our state’s health care system, what would it be?

Overall, we as a state need to be in better physical shape whether it be related to obesity, smoking, exercise, etc. It’s no secret that we’re not the healthiest state in the country. I know it’s a broad answer, but I would change how we think about and address personal health. 

6. How can the Medical Association – and physicians statewide – help better address Alabama’s health challenges?

A big role the Medical Association can play right now is continuing to push for increased telemedicine access and appropriate provider reimbursement. The Association can help us by ensuring future policy positively impacts physicians in all specialties, in all practice types and sizes, and all areas of the state.

While we’ve made progress, our progress will not become permanent without the input and advocacy from physicians. Physicians’ voices are heard through the Medical Association and that needs to continue.

7. What’s the one thing you would like to say to physicians in your district?

First of all, thank you for the untold hours you have spent in and out of hospitals and your offices. I know there are no scheduled hours for physicians, and those “hey doc” calls come
at all times.

To those on the front lines of this fight – whether it’s battling COVID-19 in the hospital or seeing patients in your office – thank you for your commitment to the profession and your patients. Many of you have put work over family, constantly risking your health so that others may have healthcare. Then leaving work trying to not take COVID 19 home with you.

We will get through this pandemic, and hopefully, we will be better able to address situations in the future. We will be better off for having fought this season, but we still have challenges and we must work together to be successful in the future.

For now, I would simply like to convey a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to all the physicians and healthcare workers. You are inspirational to us all. Thank you.

Posted in: Advocacy, Leadership

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