Message from Council on Advocacy Chair Abby Halpern
At the end of this month, ASDA will be taking part in our first-ever combined lobby day with dentists: the 2017 ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day! We anticipate around 1,000 dentists and dental students will descend on the District and have our voices heard on Capitol Hill.

While there may be some changes to the format of the conference, the objective is still the same - to advocate on behalf of the profession we are passionate about.

Students and dentists will urge members of Congress to consider important changes to health care and student loans. If you aren't able to attend this event, you can still help make a difference. Stay tuned for information from ASDA about how you can strengthen our voice by participating virtually.

For more information on ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day, download the detailed agenda.

If you have any questions about the event or how to get involved in advocacy, please contact Senior Manager, Advocacy and Policy Stephanie Follett at Stephanie@ASDAnet.org.
from ASDA
ASDA's Council on Advocacy releases new Do's and Don'ts of Lobbying Video
Not sure what to do when meeting with your member of Congress? ASDA's Council on Advocacy has got you covered. This informational video will walk you through what to do and what NOT to do when meeting with lawmakers on state and national levels.
from Washington
Republicans unveil plan to replace the Affordable Care Act

What's the issue?
On March 6, Republicans revealed their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The plan would eliminate the individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase health insurance. Under the bill, the government would issue tax credits rather than subsidies in an effort to get Americans to purchase health insurance. Individuals would receive annual tax credits of $2,000-$4,000 based on age.

Individuals that fail to purchase insurance would no longer be penalized, but insurers would be allowed to impose a 30 percent surcharge for people that have gaps between health plans.

The bill does keep three popular parts of the ACA:
  • Prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions
  • Allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plan until the age of 26
  • Banning lifetime coverage caps
The bill has not been reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office, so the full economic impact of the bill is not known. However, some analysts state that millions of consumers could lose coverage under the bill. For older Americans, the tax credits may not cover as much of the cost as the current ACA subsidies cover. This could cause individuals to forgo insurance.

This plan has been met with opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. While Democrats are likely to oppose any effort to replace the Affordable Care Act, several Republicans are opposing this measure because of the bill's similarity to the ACA, calling it "ObamaCare Lite."

Republican leaders like Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price note that the bill is a "work in progress" and are willing to work with members of Congress on the legislation.

Why is this important?
The Republican plan would eventually reduce the expansion of Medicaid. Expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act prompted some states to provide coverage for adult dental benefits. Ensuring that every individual has access to oral health services is a priority for ASDA.

On March 28, dental students and dentists will lobby to include Medicaid provisions like adult dental benefits and comprehensive oral health services for children in the final ACA repeal bill adopted by Congress.

Next steps:


EPA denies petition to ban community water fluoridation

What's the issue?
In November 2016, the Fluoride Action Network and other anti-fluoride groups submitted a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the addition of "fluoridation chemicals" to water supplies. The groups filed this petition under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) citing the neurotoxic risks of fluoride.

In a 50-page response published on Feb. 17, the EPA denied the petition stating there was no scientific evidence to conclude that any individual has suffered neurotoxic harm as a result of exposure to fluoride in the U.S.

Why is this important?
ASDA supports the EPA's decision to deny this petition. As noted in their response, the EPA recognizes the significance of water fluoridation in reducing dental caries in the U.S. population. The EPA's decision is an important victory as communities across the country continue to debate the merits of water fluoridation.

Next steps:

from the states
Dental Health Aide Therapy bill becomes law in Washington

What's the issue?
On Feb. 21, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 5079 into law. The bill allows a type of midlevel provider, the Dental Health Aide Therapist (DHAT), to provide dental care in the state.

Under the bill, federally recognized tribes can use federal funding for DHATs to provide preventative oral care services. DHATs are only authorized to practice if they are certified by a federal community health aide program or a federally recognized tribe that has adopted similar certification standards.

The passage of the bill comes after the Indian Health Service (IHS) announced its plan to extend its community health aide program across the country. Under the new policy, facilities operated by the federal government and tribally operated facilities could see expanded opportunities to utilize aides like DHATs in order to improve access to quality health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Why is this important?
Washington could be the first of several states that have a large Native American population to pass this type of legislation. It is important to work with community stakeholders to reduce barriers for care for rural and native populations in order appropriately address the needs of those populations.

Next step:


Reducing Barriers to Care Spotlight: Nebraska
On March 1, the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Dentistry was given $4 million to increase the number of dental school graduates practicing in rural areas.

Under the 10-year contract from Nebraska's Oral Health Training and Services Fund, the money will be used for the following initiatives:
  • Providing scholarships for graduating students who commit to practicing in dental workforce shortage areas for at least five years.
  • Increasing the number of patients treated by faculty and students at UNMC College of Dentistry.
As listed in ASDA's F-4 policy, the association encourages Congress and state legislatures to introduce and pass measures that provide scholarship opportunities for dental students and residents practicing in underserved areas after graduation.
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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