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 Iowa's legislative liaison, Melani Fulton
Melani Fulton, Iowa '18, is fiercely dedicated to advocacy and being part of the political process in Iowa. She has a strong background in working at the capitol in Des Moines and a willingness to share her knowledge with her fellow students. Melani was a key player in developing and executing strategies to pass legislation that has led to licensure reform in Iowa this past year.

How do you engage students at your school?
Local issues have engaged a lot of students, such as the discussion that recently led to a change in our dental licensure path here in Iowa. It's also important to engage students in other areas of their career, such as access to care that affects the patients in their chair every day.

Learn more about Melani, including how her interest in advocacy began and what famous person she'd like to have dinner with.
from ASDA
ASDA Advocacy Month in full swing

Register for the Advocacy in Action Webinar
Join ASDA on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. CST for the Advocacy in Action webinar. You will learn about successful advocacy events you can hold at your school. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask the presenters questions to help determine the advocacy event that is right for your chapter. Register now.

Congratulations to ASDA member Anne Miller Adams, South Carolina '19, winner of our "I am a dental voter" Instagram challenge. Thanks to everyone who cast their vote and then shared their passion for getting involved in the political process. Take a look at all the activity Election Day generated in the ASDA community.

Learn about other Advocacy Month activities.
from Washington
Election 2016
The country has elected new leaders. As dental student advocates, it is important to remember that regardless of who won, your job is not over. In order to advance the rights of dental students, you must work with newly elected officials. Below is a breakdown of the election results.

Executive Branch
Republican Party nominee Donald J. Trump was elected President of the United States.

Legislative Branch
House of Representatives: Republicans will maintain a majority in the 115th Congress with 239 representatives to 192 Democratic representatives. Four dentists were elected to Congress:
  • Rep. Mike Simpson was elected to serve a tenth term in Idaho's 2nd Congressional District.
  • Rep. Paul Gosar was elected to his fourth term in Arizona's 4th District.
  • Rep. Brian Babin was elected to serve a second term in Texas' 36th District.
  • Dr. Drew Ferguson was elected to serve his first term in Georgia's 3rd District.
To learn more about the dentist members of Congress, read the September issue of the Advocacy Brief.

Senate: Republicans are expected to hold a narrow majority in the 115th Congress with 51 senators to 48 Democratic senators. The Louisiana Senate run-off race will occur on December 10.

Did you know?...In Louisiana, all candidates, regardless of party affiliation run in the general election. If a candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the general election, he or she wins the race. However if no candidate receives 50 percent, a run-off election is held between the two candidates that received the most votes.

Department of Education revises loan repayment forms

What's the issue?
The Department of Education made changes to the form it uses for Direct Loan and Federal Family Education Loan Program borrowers. The Income-Driven Request (IDR) form can be used for the following repayment plans:
  • Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Plan
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan
  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan
The modifications to the form address the following:
  • Questions for married borrowers - Allows borrowers to indicate that they are separated from their spouse and/or cannot reasonably access their spouse's income information. The previous form only allowed borrowers to indicate this if their most recent tax return was filed separately from their spouse.
  • Borrowers who wish to change from IBR to a different income-driven repayment plan - Incorporates an automatic request for a one-month reduced-payment forbearance before switching to a different repayment plan. Borrowers who want to switch repayment plans have to make at least one payment under the Standard Repayment Plan before changing plans. This could be considered a financial hardship for many borrowers. While the previous form had a box that could be checked to request a one-month reduced-payment forbearance, it was often overlooked when filling out the form.
  • Other changes - Wording modifications were made to the form to provide greater clarity.
Why is this important?
The revised form took effect on Oct. 30, 2016. These minor changes have the potential to make a big impact on borrowers who may have been limited by the previous form's restrictions.

Next step:
from the states
Committee meets to discuss student loan forgiveness in Indiana

What's the issue?
In the February issue of the Advocacy Brief, we discussed resolution SR 7, which directed the appropriate council to study student debt forgiveness in Indiana for dental and medical students.

On Sept. 20, the Indiana Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services met to discuss this issue. Indiana currently has a loan repayment program that is not funded by the state legislature. Program requirements include:
  • Commitment to working five years in an underserved area or as a minority dentist or dental hygienist in Indiana for a yearly grant of $35,000; or a commitment to working two years in an underserved area or as a minority dentist or dental hygienist for a yearly grant of $30,000
  • Providing an average of at least 40 hours of dentistry per week in underserved areas or as a minority dentist or dental hygienist in Indiana
  • Maintaining a patient base that includes at least 30% Medicaid patients
After hearing testimony from the Indiana Dental Association and the Indiana School of Dentistry, the Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the loan repayment program require a four-year commitment instead of a five-year commitment.

Why is this important?
This highlights the importance of dental student advocacy. After hearing testimony from the Indiana School of Dentistry, the Committee made a recommendation that supports student loan forgiveness opportunities for recent graduates. If this issue comes up in your state, please take the opportunity to work with the appropriate stakeholders and advocate for student loan forgiveness programs that help underserved communities.

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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