ASDA celebrates 2020 advocacy accomplishments

2020 demonstrated the power of #ASDAadvocacy. Check out the infographic to learn more about how ASDA fights for you.

ASDA, along with other organizations, see successes with coalition letters

On Dec. 15, ASDA and 28 other medical, dental and healthcare organizations urged congressional leaders to include Section 501(c)(6) nonprofit associations in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). In the COVID-19 relief package signed by President Trump on Dec. 27, many 501(c)(6) organizations are now included in this program.
On Dec. 16, ASDA and 24 other dental and healthcare organizations sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting clarification to include dental, autopsy and laboratory personnel for priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC clarified its definition to read "healthcare personnel includes dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants" on Dec. 28.
On Sept. 22, ASDA and 13 other dental organizations signed on to a letter offering continued full support of the Transparency in Dental Benefits Contracting Model Act being considered by the Health Insurance and Long Term Care Issues committee. In December, the National Council of Insurance Legislators adopted the Transparency in Dental Benefits Contracting Model Act. Read more here.
Read ASDA's coalition letters.
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FROM Washington
$2.3 trillion spending and COVID-19 relief bill signed by President Trump
The issue: On Dec. 27, President Trump signed a $2.3 trillion spending and COVID-19 relief bill into law. $900 billion is allocated specifically to COVID-19 relief efforts and the other $1.4 trillion is allocated to a spending bill that needed to pass in order to avoid a government shutdown.
The spending package includes funding for several programs critical for advancing oral health including the following:
  • $215 million for the Indian Health Service dental program, an increase of more than $4 million from last year.
  • $485 million for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a $7 million increase from last year.
  • $43 million for Area Health Education Centers, an increase of $2 million, which will expand workforce training and health care delivery in rural and underserved areas.
  • $3.6 million for Health Professions Opportunity Grants, which provides education and training for low-income individuals in healthcare fields, including dental assisting and dental hygiene.
  • $4 billion for community health centers and extends mandatory funding through 2023.
  • $310 million for National Health Service Corps.
  • $27 million for the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program.
Why is this important? On Dec. 14, ASDA sent out a request for dental students to contact their members of Congress about including specific provisions in the COVID-19 relief package. More than 230 letters were sent to lawmakers urging them to consider, among other priorities, modifications to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)Key victories include:
  • Making expenses paid for with program loans tax deductible.
  • Allowing PPP borrowers to utilize the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The bill also increases the wage cap and percentage of eligible wages for that credit.
Learn more about the bill.
Moratorium on student loan payments extended until Jan. 31

On Dec. 4, former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos extended the suspension of federal student loan payments through the end of January. This was first introduced in March and later extended. The incoming Biden administration will need to assess the need for extending the moratorium.
McCarran-Ferguson reform passes Congress

The Issue: On Dec. 22, the Senate passed HR 1418, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act. The bill repeals the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption for health insurance companies.

Why is this important? This is a huge legislative victory for the profession. ASDA and the ADA have advocated for passage of this bill since 2017. This helps inject more competition into the insurance marketplace by authorizing greater federal antitrust enforcement in instances where state regulators fail to act.
Election Update

As noted in the November issue, Georgia candidates need to receive 50 percent of the vote in order to be declared a winner. In both Senate races, no candidate was able to capture 50 percent of the vote on Election Day, forcing two runoff elections. 

On Jan. 5, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won their respective Georgia Senate runoff elections. This brings the total number of Senate Democrats to 50, thus shifting control of the Senate to Democrats with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' ability to cast a tie breaking vote.
House issues an article of impeachment against President Trump

On Jan. 13, in a vote of 232-197, the House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump for the second time for inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
President Trump now faces a trial on the article of impeachment in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated he would not bring the Senate back ahead of schedule which would mean the earliest a trial can begin is Jan. 19.

FROM the States
States have the option to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Want to learn more about Medicaid expansion? Listen to Legislative Coordinator for Districts 8 & 9 Jake Holtzmann's take on this issue in this Advocacy Fast video.

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.