ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day Update
More than 400 dental students attended the first-ever ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day on March 26-28, in Washington, D.C. Students joined with dentists to receive issue-specific training and learn how to effectively lobby legislators. The meeting served as a perfect opportunity to network with current and future colleagues in each state.

Congratulations to Andrew Larkin, Arizona '19, on being named the 2017 Legislative Liaison of the Year. This award honors an outstanding legislative liaison for motivating and organizing advocacy events at the chapter. It was given during the awards breakfast on Tuesday, where both ADPAC and ASDA recognized advocacy achievements.

Issues Update
During their meetings with lawmakers, attendees urged Congress to address the following issues:
  • H.R. 372, the Competitive Health Insurance Act
    • Summary: This bill would allow the Department of Justice to enforce federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies participating in anti-competitive practices. This could create more competition and more options for consumers.
    • Status: On March 22, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 372 with a vote of 416-7.
  • Health care reform
    • Summary: ASDA and the ADA strongly believe oral health needs to be addressed in any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Attendees lobbied lawmakers to preserve certain Medicaid previsions like the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit and adult dental benefits.
    • Status: Efforts to repeal and replace the ACA continue in Congress. Read more about it in the section below.
  • Reauthorization of federal student loan programs under the Higher Education Act
    • Summary: ASDA and the ADA believe the federal government should take action to reduce the excessive burden of student debt by: lowering the interest rates on federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans, reinstating eligibility for graduates and professional degree students to use federal Direct Subsidized Loans and permitting graduate student loans to be refinanced more than once.
    • Status:
      • On March 17, Representative Mark Pocan introduced H.R. 1614, the Student Loan Refinancing Act that allows students to refinance their loans when economic conditions are more favorable. This addresses one of the principles attendees advocated for during Lobby Day.
      • ASDA signed on to two coalition letters in support of the Student Loan Refinancing Act and the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
      • On April 5, ASDA sent out an action alert to all members, encouraging them to contact their lawmakers about the Student Loan Refinancing Act.
      • So far, ASDA members have sent 239 letters to members of Congress, urging them to support this legislation.
Next Steps:
from Washington
Trump's budget proposal and oral health care

What's the issue?
On March 16, President Trump released his proposed budget. In a 53-page document entitled "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again," Trump outlined his funding priorities for 2018.

Trump is proposing cuts to several federal agencies. The Department of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs are the only agencies receiving a funding increase in the proposal. See below for how this budget could affect agencies that address oral health care and education.
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): Cuts budget by 17.9% totaling $15.1 billion. HHS is committed to advancing the oral health and general well-being of all populations.
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH): Cuts budget by $5.8 billion. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is under NIH and seeks to improve oral, dental and craniofacial health through research, training and the dissemination of health information.
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): Cuts budget by $403 million or nearly 50% of the 2016 funding. HHS administers grants to support oral health workforce activities. It also provides scholarships and loans for disadvantaged students to promote diversity among health professions.
  • Department of Education: Cuts budget by $9 billion. The Department of Education is the largest provider of student loans and financial aid in the nation.
Why is this important?
As health care professionals, you may rely on the resources or services provided by the agencies listed above. Maintaining appropriate funding to these agencies is important to ensure important advances to oral health care in the future.

Next step:

An update on health care reform

What's the issue?
On March 24, Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan announced that he planned to remove the American Health Care Act (AHCA) from consideration.

Speaker Ryan removed the bill because it did not have enough support from all Republicans to ensure its passage. As noted in the March issue of the Advocacy Brief, several Republican members believed the bill didn't go far enough to repeal provisions within the ACA.

After the failure to bring AHCA to a vote, the House Majority is attempting to work out a deal between moderate and conservative Republicans in order to reintroduce health care legislation.

It is unclear when the bill may be reintroduced for a vote.

Why is this important?
This is one of the issues ASDA and ADA members advocated for during ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day. It is important to keep up with changes to health care reform bills in order to refine how you speak with lawmakers about the principles we believe should be included within the bill.

Next step:
from the states
Wisconsin bill provides more opportunities for dental hygienists to practice independently

What's the issue?
On March 15, State Representative Kathy Bernier introduced AB 146. The bill seeks to expand the number of places dental hygienists are able to practice without authorization or supervision of a dentist. The bill would add hospitals, nursing homes, daycares and detention centers to the list of places hygienists would be able to practice independently. Currently, hygienists are able to administer sealants to students in schools without supervision of a dentist.

Why is this important?
The bill aims to bring hygienists to places that desperately need dental care. In 2015, more than 2,000 people went to the Dane County Emergency Room for dental pain rather than visiting a doctor. This resulted in more than $2.5 million in charges.

This bill is supported by a number of health care organizations including the Wisconsin Dental Association, the Wisconsin Hospital Association and the Wisconsin Public Health Association.

Next step(s):
Read more about the bill, which passed the Wisconsin Assembly unanimously and moves on to the State Senate for a vote.

Maryland bill could provide adult dental benefits for Medicaid patients

What's the issue?
Senate Bill 169 allows for the creation of an adult dental benefit under Medicaid. However, the bill does not mandate that funding be allocated to this benefit. Due to overwhelming concerns about budgetary implications of adding this benefit, the bill includes language that states the funding is subject to the limitations of the state budget.

Why is this important?
Adding adult dental benefits under Medicaid could reduce barriers to care and decrease hospital costs. According to Maryland State Dental Association President Diane Romaine, "eighty-five percent of emergency dental issues could be treated in a traditional dental setting at one-third to one-half the cost."

Next step(s):

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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