If this is your first Action Alert from us, welcome! Dentistry is so much more than just drilling and filling. As dental professionals, we have an obligation to better our profession for ourselves, our colleagues, and our patients. As your ASDA legislative liaisons, we will send out periodic action alerts. All you have to do to make your voice heard is click the link and spend about 90 seconds of your time.
1. Click here to write to your representatives to pass the Dental Health Bill and go to the senate. More info here but TL;DR: BIPARTISAN BILL with UNANIMOUS SUPPORT that lets orgs get grants for programs (Give Kids a Smile, Mission of Mercy, etc.) that improve oral health education and disease prevention. More outreach programs=more help for vulnerable populations! This is a win-win!
2. Birmingham mayoral, city council and school board elections are Aug 22. Deadline to register to vote is Aug 8. You can do it online and is so easy! This is your community, do your part and get out and vote!
Your Legislative Liaisons,
Colson, Kai, Mark, and Meghana
What a great way to kickoff our Advocacy Week for ADPAC having our legislative liaisons show this video and talk about what they learned in DC!
Wednesday 4/26: Pizza and Politics with Dr. Red Stevens
Lunch in room 220
Thursday 4/27: The Chick-Fil-A Caucus with Dr. Lew Mitchell and Dr. Zack Studstill
Lunch in room 501
Tuesday 5/2: Red Wine and Brews
7 p.m. at Rogue Tavern (Free drink tickets and food while supplies last)
Venmo your $5 to @UABASDA-Treasurer or give cash/check to any of your Legislative Liaisons and RSVP in the Google doc to have access to each event!
Contact Meghana Sthanam at email@example.com if you have any questions.
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
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.