from ASDA
Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a priority for Republican members of Congress since the last election. A number of executive and legislative actions towards health care reform have occurred in recent months. Having a hard time keeping track of the various bills and changes to health care? ASDA can help. Download a timeline that outlines the process of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
from Washington
Rep. Kelly reintroduces the Action for Dental Health Act

What's the issue?
On May 15, Rep. Robin Kelley (D-Ill.) introduced H.R. 2422, the Action for Dental Health Act. The bill would allow organizations to qualify for oral health grants administered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The grant money could be used to support volunteer dental projects that provide care to the underserved, like Give Kids A Smile and Missions of Mercy.

Why is this important?
This bill was first introduced in January 2015, and ASDA lobbied for its passage during both 2015 and 2016 National Dental Student Lobby Day. By the end of the 114th Congress, the bill had a total of 123 co-sponsors (97 Democrats and 26 Republicans).

It is important to build off the momentum of the last congressional session. Reach out to your representatives today, and ask them to co-sponsor the Action for Dental Health Act.

Next step:
ADA member dentist Dr. Cheryl D. Watson-Lowry testified before Congress to express her support for this bill. Read more about her testimony.

Trump releases detailed budget proposal

In the April issue of the Advocacy Brief, ASDA outlined the spending cuts proposed in President Trump's skinny budget. On May 23, Trump released "A New Foundation for American Greatness," which explains his 2018 spending proposals in more detail. In the 62-page document, the president outlines major changes to Medicaid and student loans.

For Medicaid, he recommends cutting spending by $610 billion over 10 years. This is in addition to the more than $800 billion in cuts that would be implemented if the American Health Care Act is signed into law. In order to implement these cuts, states would receive Medicaid funding by either a per capita cap or block grant system.

President Trump also wants to streamline student loan repayment plans. He recommends consolidating all repayment plans into one income-driven repayment plan that would cap borrowers' monthly repayments at 12.5 percent of discretionary income. Undergraduate debt would be forgiven after 15 years, while graduate debt would be forgiven after 30.

The plan calls for the federal government to stop subsidizing interest on student loans. It would also phase out the public service loan forgiveness program that excuses student loans after borrowers work 10 years in government or at a qualifying non-profit.

Why is this important?
The funding cuts to Medicaid have the potential to halt the progress made on dental care utilization among low-income children. Additionally, the cuts to the student loan program may make pursuing a career in dentistry too costly for low-income borrowers.

While President Trump presents his funding priorities for 2018, Congress approves the final budget. Several members of Congress have indicated that the budget will not be approved as presented.

In April's Advocacy Brief, ASDA stressed that appropriate funding for research institutions like the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is critical for the advancement of the profession. We've seen Congress respond favorably to concerns from stakeholders within the health care community with the passage of the 2017 appropriations bill.

Therefore it is imperative for you to continue to share your concerns with your members of Congress in order to address the cuts to critical programs outlined in Trump's budget proposal.

Next step:

from the states
Arizona reinstates emergency dental benefits under Medicaid

What's the issue?
On May 12, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey approved the state's budget that included emergency dental benefits for adults enrolled in Medicaid. This benefit was eliminated in 2009. In 2018, adults will be entitled to emergency dental care and extractions up to $1,000.

Why is this important?
As changes to Medicaid continue to be discussed at the federal level, it is important to recognize the states that make efforts to give low-income adults access to dental care. President of the Arizona Dental Association Dr. Eric Curtis notes, "We've heard a lot about lack of access to dental care. The best way to increase access is to break down barriers, which is what this budget item does. It's the right diagnosis and solution."

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.