College basketball isn’t the only madness going on in the month of March. As always, the legislative side of dentistry is abuzz with activity. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with all the issues listed below, but we especially encourage you to take a look at the 3 main issues to be discussed at the National Dental Student Lobby Day. A one-page summary of each of those issues can be found here.
SB22-HB 48: This house bill, brought forth by State Rep. Weaver, gives tax credits to rural practitioners, and has recently been expanded to dentists. It is currently sitting in the House Ways and Means committee and is pending action. For those concerned, please refer to the sample letter we have written at the end of this email.
(Impending) Fluoridation Bill: This bill would require reporting of suspension of fluoridation in municipal water supplies. This Fluoridation Bill would require water systems to inform people/the city that fluoridation will be stopped. Arab, Alabama is currently in dispute with the water system on the cessation of fluoride.
Dental Licensure Objective Structured Clinical Examination: In February, the ADA Board of Trustees voted to create a national dental licensure exam. ASDA has maintained the position that using human subjects is not indicative of competency, and is ethically a grey area regarding what is best for our patients. This national exam will likely be put forth in 2020. More info here.
Lobby Day Issues:
McCarran-Ferguson Reform: The ADA is working with lawmakers, regulators, and others to protect consumers from anticompetitive market practices that can make health insurance less affordable, such as cooperative ratemaking and joint underwriting. When competition is robust, companies must offer consumers lower prices and innovation in the marketplace, and health insurance companies are no different. Repealing this Act has been presented several times in the past, but we are confident that this year we will have the sponsors from Lobbying Day to get this bill on the floor for passage.
Health Care Reform (American Health Care Act): The ADA supports some provisions in the legislation, such as “expanding the use of health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts and eliminating most ACA taxes,” while other provisions cause concern, such as “changing the Medicaid program to a per capita cap allotment system and not offering the use of tax credits for the purchase of stand-alone dental plans” and drastically decreasing available Medicaid funding. The ADA notes that under this current legislation, millions of consumers will lose coverages, especially pediatric dental insurance, and would impact rural patients the hardest with higher costs and loss of access. At Lobby Day, we hope to convey to our representatives that certain provisions of the AHCA need to be supported, while others need to be improved.
Student Loan Programs: The ADA is working to lower the interest rates on federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, as well as the total amount of interest that can accrue on federal graduate student loans, in addition to other strategic goals to reduce the burden of student loans.
We want to hear from YOU about how student loans have affected your goals as a dentist. Personal stories will be our greatest impact and we want to take your story to our legislators. Please contact Kai Huang (firstname.lastname@example.org) by SUNDAY MARCH 26 and we will take it to the Hill!
Your legislative liaisons,
Mark Abere, Kai Haung, Colson Smith, Meghana Sthanam
Our rural communities are in dire need of practicing dentists, but student loan debt and low reimbursement rates preclude dentists from expanding to those areas. Dentists are small business owners and by entering the rural market, they can provide economic benefits as well to the community. We encourage you to support passage of SB22-HB48 to ease the burden of practicing in small rural communities and providing much needed care to that population.
[Your Name Here]
Contact the Senate Finance and Tax Education committee here to advance this bill to the floor to vote.