from ASDA
Advocacy event spotlight

It's time to stop reinventing the advocacy wheel. Rather than plan an event from scratch, learn from the leaders that have planned successful advocacy events at other chapters.
Florida Dentist Day on the Hill
Participating in state lobby day is a great way to get involved in advocacy. Legislative Liaison Hanna Lee, Nova Southeastern '20, and Legislative Liaison Natalie Atyeo, Florida '20, helped members of their chapters attend Florida's Dentist Day on the Hill.
Both dentists and students met in the state capital to advocate for issues important to dentistry. Attendees lobbied for funding for programs that bring dental care to the underserved and for community water fluoridation during their meetings with legislators.
The event not only shed light on the importance of lobbying, but it helped connect students with dentists. Lee notes, "I still regularly talk to the dentists I met that day, and they have become my mentors. Attending Dentist Day on the Hill showed me an aspect to our profession beyond dental school and how important it is to advocate for our profession and patients."

Read the Chapter Advocacy How-To Guide for more information on how to participate in a lobby day in your state. Have additional questions about this event? Contact the Council on Advocacy.  
from Washington
Legislation update

In the June issue of the Advocacy Brief, we shared that Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) reintroduced the Action for Dental Health Act. On June 29, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health unanimously passed the Action for Dental Health Act of 2017. The bill now will go before the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Now is the time to contact your representative, and let them know how this bill will help reduce barriers to care in your state.

Hours before publication of this issue of Advocacy Brief, the Senate released a revised version of the BCRA. Cuts to Medicaid remain the same, however the new version would allow insurers to offer plans that don't comply with ACA provisions. This could mean people with pre-existing conditions could end up paying more for health insurance. The new version also includes additional money to fund the opioid epidemic, as well as retains ACA taxes on the wealthy. The CBO will review the revised bill and provide a new score, which could come as early as next week. Next month's issue will review further developments.
Senate struggling to pass Obamacare repeal and replace bill 

On June 22, the Senate introduced the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). This is the Senate's version of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While there are some similarities to the House version of the bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), there are a few differences that are highlighted below.

Medicaid funding

Both the House and the Senate bill propose a per capita cap on federal Medicaid spending. However, the Senate bill provides less funding for Medicaid in the future. After 2025, the growth in funding will no longer be tied to the consumer price index for medical care. Growth in funding will be tied to the consumer price index for all goods, which has a lower level of growth. This could lead to more low-income individuals that are unable to receive the care that they need.

Tax credits

The AHCA established a flat tax credit based on age only. This means that the tax credit would be the same for everyone of a certain age, regardless of their income. The BCRA establishes tax credits based on family income, local cost of insurance and age, similar to the ACA. This change could help older Americans with lower incomes afford insurance.

State waivers

The BCRA, like the AHCA, allows states to opt out of out of covering essential health benefits, like pediatric dental care. However, the Senate bill would not allow states to repeal the community rating.

Similar to the AHCA, Senate Republicans are divided on the bill. Moderate Republicans are concerned about the cuts to Medicaid, while conservative Republicans don't believe the bill goes far enough to repeal ACA provisions. Republicans have a narrow majority in the Senate and would require support from 51 of 52 Republicans to pass the bill. The Senate was expected to take a vote on this bill prior to the July Fourth recess. However, on June 27, Senator Mitch McConnell postponed the vote because he did not have the votes to ensure its passage. The Senate is expected to vote next week.
Why is this important?
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the number of people uninsured would increase to 22 million by 2026 under the BCRA. Additionally, the CBO predicts that the BCRA would cut Medicaid funding by $772 billion over the next decade. This bill has the potential to limit the amount of care patients are able to receive under Medicaid. Contact your senators to share how cuts to Medicaid funding may affect the patients you serve.
Next step:
Read more about the Senate bill.
from the states
Iowa makes changes to Medicaid dental benefits

What's the issue?

Iowa's Dental Wellness Plan went into effect on July 1. It provides full dental benefits to adults 19 and older who are currently on Medicaid. In order to continue receiving full dental benefits during the second year of the plan, enrollees have to complete a "Healthy Behaviors" survey.

Why is this important?

Iowa is one of 15 states that offer extensive dental benefits for adults. It is important to learn more about states that offer this level of coverage in order to effectively advocate for additional Medicaid funding in states that offer limited to no dental coverage for adults on Medicaid.

Next step:
Reducing Barriers to Care Spotlight: Kentucky

Kentucky is taking a different approach to address barriers to care for children in the state. Delta Dental of Kentucky and Kentucky Youth Advocates are launching regional networks to help create opportunities for children in underserved communities to receive care. Delta Dental is providing $1 million to help start this initiative. Learn more about it.  

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.