Hopefully everyone has adjusted from spring break! Towards the end of the break, your legislative liaisons made a trip to DC for National Dental Student Lobby Day and advocated on your behalf on issues that affect both our dental schooling and dental careers alike. We lobbied on 4 main issues:
1. As mentioned before, McCarran-Ferguson Reform has overwhelmingly passed the House and is now waiting to be introduced in Senate. To quickly summarize, this act will encourage more competition with health insurance companies, causing these companies to offer lower consumer prices. On lobby day when discussing this issue, we thanked the Representatives that supported the bill, and asked for their continual support moving forward.
2. Student Loan reform was definitely one of the bigger issues that we tackled on Capitol Hill. The ADA is working to lower the interest rates on federal direct unsubsidized Stafford loans, and also trying to limit the amount of interest we can accrue on these loans. Right now, the Student Loan Refinance Act is up in the air and if successfully passed, will allow students to refinance their loans multiple times. As mentioned before, this is an issue that had a lot of student involvement. We were able to give personal stories about student debt and also discussed things we wanted done that will give us more freedom in selecting where we want to work in the future.
ACTION ITEM: Sign this letter to your Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 1614 which will allow you to refinance your loans more than once.
3. Health Care Reform- Under the current legislation, a good number of people will lose health coverage, negatively impacting patients that reside in rural areas. Certain provisions of the American Health Care Act were supported while other aspects of provisions were discussed in hope of making them better.
4. Finally, as a last minute addition due to the White House’s budget proposal, we asked our representatives to ensure NIH funding stays intact. The current administration is advocating for a 20% reduction in the FY 2018 budget. As we are all aware, the UAB SOD has received UAB’s largest grant from the NIH; further reductions will have drastic ramifications for our university and especially on developments in oral health research.
Your Legislative Liaisons had a blast on Capitol Hill! It was our pleasure to work with our very own Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Stevens (along side with other fantastic dentists from the Alabama area) in advocating for the rights of dental students and dentists in making our voices heard!
Mark, Kai, Colson, and Meghana