legislative liaison spotlight
Legislative liaisons (LLs) serve an important role at each chapter. The 2016-17 Council on Advocacy would like to recognize these leaders and share their successes.

Meet Minnesota's legislative liaison, Nick Schulte
Robert F. Kennedy said, "The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better." Third-year Minnesota dental student Nick Schulte spends a great deal of time doing just that through a variety of projects and affiliations. Nick has completed a Masters of Public Health and continues to work with the State of Minnesota on increasing access to dental care for the underserved. He also helped reinstate the American Association of Public Health Dentistry chapter at the school. All the while, he serves as Minnesota's legislative liaison. Fluent in the local and national political scenes, he works to keep his fellow students active and engaged.

What got you interested in advocacy?
I was first introduced to advocacy while studying for my MPH prior to dental school. In public health, we focus on making positive health impacts on every level from a global scale down to a single individual. During that time, I found that one of the best ways to impart significant change is through policy development and advocacy for policies and practices that promote health. I got first-hand experience in advocacy while working at the Minnesota Department of Health in the Oral Health Program where we worked on state-level projects targeting school-based sealant programs and water fluoridation. Upon starting dental school, I saw an even greater opportunity to be an advocate both for dentists and our patients through policy-making.

Learn more about Nick, including his biggest challenge in engaging ASDA members in advocacy activities and what famous person he'd like to have dinner with.

from ASDA
Register to be a part of a new lobbying experience
This year, ASDA is taking the success of National Dental Student Lobby Day to the next level with a new advocacy event. ASDA is joining with the American Dental Association to bring you the ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day. The conference will feature dental students and practitioners coming together to lobby on Capitol Hill. In addition to conducting congressional meetings with dentists, dental student attendees will have the opportunity to network and learn with experienced practitioners throughout the meeting. Come be one of 1,000 dental professionals on the Hill lobbying to protect and advance the profession.

Talk to your ASDA leaders if you'd like to participate, or you can register on your own. The deadline to register is March 1.

from Washington
A new Congress convenes
On Jan. 3, 2017, the 115th Congress convened. With the start of the new Congress, all the bills from the 114th Congress are now expired. Members of Congress can choose to reintroduce the same bill during this two-year session.

On Jan. 20, President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office during the inauguration ceremony. The event marks the commencement of a new four-year presidential term. The Chief Justice typically administers the oath to the president. Although the event includes parades and celebrations, the oath is the only element mandated by the Constitution.

Republicans begin process for repealing the Affordable Care Act

What's the issue?
Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a priority for Republican members of Congress.

In order to achieve this objective, the Republicans will have to do some procedural maneuvering in the Senate. Learn more about these proceedings.

Why is this important?
During the process, Congress could repeal the following provisions:
  • The individual insurance mandate
  • The mandate that companies with 50 or more employees provide affordable insurance for their employees
  • Federal subsidies that could eliminate funding for Medicaid expansion
Congress could choose to keep more popular parts of the legislation intact, including the prohibition of denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. It will be important to monitor how these changes could affect adult dental benefits for those participating in the Medicaid program.

Next step:

from the states
California looks to increase reimbursement rates

What's the issue?
Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, R-San Diego, introduced a bill that would increase the reimbursement rate for dentists who participate in the Denti-Cal program.

The bill would raise the reimbursement rates for the 15 most common services like teeth cleanings and fillings. The rates would take effect in 2018.

California has one of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. The rates for participating dentists haven't changed since 2001.

Why is this important?
As discussed in the January 2015 issue of the Advocacy Brief, children enrolled in Denti-Cal were not receiving the dental care they needed. California attributed the gap in care to low reimbursement rates, limited access to Denti-Cal providers in certain counties and an increase in the overall number of patients eligible for Denti-Cal services.

This legislation attempts to address one of the major concerns with the Denti-Cal program.

Next step:

Georgia and Missouri pre-file midlevel provider bills

What's the issue?
On Dec. 20, State Sen. Renee Unterman (R) pre-filed SB 12, legislation that would allow dental hygienists to practice in safety-net clinics, nursing homes, school-based clinics and other locations without a dentist present. Unterman noted that this bill would help the most vulnerable populations receive access to care.

On Dec. 20, State Rep. Donna Lichtenegger (R) pre-filed H.B. 297, a bill that would expand the scope of practice for dental hygienists. The services performed by the hygienist, the protocols for practice and the populations that would be served would be outlined in a formal agreement between a licensed dentist and the dental hygienist. Some of the procedures dental hygienists could be allowed to perform include scaling and polishing, dental sealants and nonsurgical periodontal procedures.

Why is this important?
Most states have the option to pre-file bills prior to the start of a new legislative session. This process can help expedite the process for introducing legislation for the incoming year.

As outlined in ASDA's C-2 policy, the dentist is the only dental provider that should perform the following functions: examinations, diagnosis, treatment planning and surgical/irreversible procedures.

Next steps:

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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