Lobby Day 2016 approaches
Invitation from Council on Advocacy Chair James Wanamaker
On April 11-12, more than 400 dental students will meet on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for ASDA's National Dental Student Lobby Day. During this two-day event, dental students will advocate for ASDA's 22,000 members on critical issues affecting dental education and our profession. This event provides dental students with a unique and impactful opportunity to meet with lawmakers. Attendees will receive a full day of training on legislative policy to prepare for discussions with lawmakers and their staff.

We are the next generation of dental professionals and we will encounter real issues following graduation including finding a job, the burden of student debt and the challenge of access to care for our patients. Through our personal narratives, we can influence change for the better and compel our elected officials to act. It is through our strength in numbers and unified message that we can make our voices heard in Washington - but only if you get involved in the discussion. I encourage all ASDA members to attend National Dental Student Lobby Day. Please reach out to your chapter leaders or visit ASDAnet.org to learn how you can advocate for dentistry.

from Washington
Congress divided over 21st Century Cures Act

What's the issue?
On July 10, 2015, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill establishes mandatory funding that would be allocated to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) each year. This funding would not have to go through the annual appropriations process.

Currently the bill is in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The mandatory funding for NIH is a divisive issue within the Senate. Senate Republicans are hesitant to move a bill out of committee that includes the mandatory funding option for NIH. While top Senate Democrats like Patty Murray (D-WA) state that they will only move the bill out of committee if it includes the funding option.

The Senate committee will meet again in March and April to finish working on the Cures Act.

Why is this important?
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is a branch of the National Institutes of Health. The institute aims to improve the oral, dental and craniofacial health through research and the distribution of important health information.

Allowing NIH to receive funding without going to through the appropriations process ensures improvement of the oral and systemic health of the patients you serve.

Next step:

from the states
Bill aims to create a loan repayment program for dentists in Pennsylvania

What's the issue?
Rep. William Kortz II (D-PA) introduced H.B. 1815. The bill would establish a loan forgiveness program that would allow the Pennsylvania Higher Education and Assistance Agency (PHEAA) to forgive up to 50 percent of a dentist's loan, not exceeding $100,000. Participants in the program would be subject to a four-year contract with PHEAA during which the award would be forgiven at an annual rate of 25 percent.

Rep. Kortz cited the growing dental student debt and the need to keep qualified dentists in Pennsylvania as reasons for introducing the bill.

Why is this important?
The average indebted dental student graduates with $247,227 of student debt. This high level of debt can jeopardize a new dentist's ability to choose his or her career path.

The Pennsylvania bill has the potential to keep dentists in Pennsylvania and increase the number of career options new dentists can consider within the state.

Next step:

Bill introduced to change Maine dental hygiene therapist requirements

What's the issue?
Rep. Heather Sirocki (R-ME), a dental hygienist, sponsored L.D. 1514. The act changes some of the training, supervision and accreditation requirements for dental hygiene therapists in Maine. One of the major changes proposed involves eliminating the requirement that a dental hygiene therapist be under the direct supervision of a dentist.

Other conditions the bill would eliminate:
  • A requirement that an applicant hold an associate degree in dental hygiene before entering a dental hygiene therapy program.
  • A requirement that a dental hygiene program be consistent with a specified model of curriculum.
Why is this important?
According to ASDA's C-2 policy, the association believes the dentist is the only dental provider that should perform examinations, diagnosis, treatment planning as well as surgical/irreversible procedures.

It is important for you to be aware of changes to current dental hygiene therapist legislation, so you can effectively lobby against these bills at the state level.

Next step:

Advocacy Brief shares news about ongoing issues and legislation that are of interest to dental students and organized dentistry. Inclusion of items does not imply their adherence to ASDA policy.
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