e-mail Print Share

Legislation provides increases in funding for research, education

December 22, 2015 Washington — Offering a clear win on key issues for organized dentistry and dental patients, the president signed into law Dec. 18 a package of legislation that provided significant increases in funding for dental research, education and related matters. The legislation also included important changes to the tax code that will help dentists, as well as employers and health care consumers. Finally, the massive bill effectively addresses several critical public health issues affecting oral and overall health. The ADA played an active role in advocating for all of these issues, in many cases taking the lead, and in several instances acting through coalitions.

The ADA took the lead in ensuring increased funding for the following dental programs:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDC’s Division of Oral Health helps states improve their oral health programs, encourages the effective use of fluoride products and community water fluoridation and promotes school-based and linked dental sealant programs. Funding increased by more than $2 million to $18 million for the 2016 fiscal year.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Appropriators approved nearly $415.6 in funding for 2016. That’s a more than $17 million increase for the NIDCR whose mission is to improve dental, oral and craniofacial health through research, research training and the dissemination of health information. Report language accompanying the appropriations bill cites a decline in caries rates for most Americans but notes disparities among some population groups and encourages the NIDCR to explore more opportunities related to dental caries research.

Health Resources and Services Administration
Appropriators approved nearly $35.9 million for oral health training programs with $10 million set aside for general dentistry residencies, a $1 million increase, and $10 million for pediatric dental residencies, also a $1 million increase. Research from the Health Resources and Services Administration shows that these residencies increase access to oral health services for underserved and vulnerable populations.

Maternal and Child Health - Special Projects of Regional and National Significance
Congress set aside $5 million for oral health research in 2016. These grants, funded through the Maternal and Child Health block grant, support research, training, working to educate mothers in the prenatal and postnatal period on the importance of oral health, while encouraging improved oral health across the lifespan. In addition, Special Projects of Regional and National Significance supports the Maternal and Child Health Healthy Start Initiative and the Home Visiting Program.

Health Career Opportunity Program
The president’s budget would have eliminated these funds. Congress assured that funding will continue at the fiscal year 2015 level of $14.2 million. These programs often begin in middle schools. The focus is to increase the pipeline for multicultural workforce opportunities in dentistry, allied and other health professions.    

Area Health Education Centers
The president’s budget would have eliminated funding for these centers. Congress assured that funding will continue at the fiscal year 2015 level of nearly $30.3 million. The centers support academic-community partnerships toward improving distribution, diversity and supply of the primary care health professions workforce serving in rural and underserved areas.

Ryan White AIDS Dental Services
Funding will continue at the fiscal year 2015 level of more than $13.1 million. The dental reimbursement and community-based dental partnership programs provide oral health care for persons with HIV/AIDS.

Military dental research
Funding will continue at $6 million. Military research units address dental disease and craniomaxillofacial battle injuries. The research detachment includes Army, Navy and Air Force officers in oral and maxillofacial surgery, periodontal surgery, plastic surgery, comprehensive dentistry, dental materials science and engineering, dental epidemiology, dental infectious disease and dental public health.

Indian Health Service
The dental account received nearly $178.3 million in funding for fiscal year 2016, a more than $4.3 million increase. The mission of the Indian Health Service dental program is to protect and promote oral health and prevent oral disease among all American Indian and Alaska Native beneficiaries.

The ADA played a very active role in coalitions supporting the following changes to the tax code:

Tax extensions affecting small businesses (Section 179)
The ADA helped lead the way for a permanent extension of Section 179 expensing, which allows for deductions of new equipment and property up to $500,000, with the deduction phased out for investments exceeding $2 million. The permanent extension of the Section 179 deduction, which is indexed for inflation, will allow businesses to plan ahead with the knowledge that they can deduct investments in new equipment and property.

Medical Device Tax
The ADA and other coalition members sought a permanent repeal of the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices.  The legislation includes a two year delay of the tax. The two-year delay provides additional time for the ADA and others to work to eliminate the tax in the future.

Cadillac Tax
Beginning in 2018, many health plans would have been subject to a very substantial tax, known as the “Cadillac Tax”, because they exceeded certain cost thresholds established by the ACA. This tax has been delayed for two years.  The two-year delay will push enforcement of the tax until 2020 and provide Congress with additional time to address the unintended consequences associated with the tax, such as the adverse effects on FSA that are used by many patients to pay for dental care.

The ADA played a leading role in several important public health initiatives:

The ADA was part of a coalition that helped broaden the base of scientific literature federal agencies may draw from when formulating the next iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The ADA maintains that science, not politics, should drive the federal government’s efforts to update the guidelines.

The ADA successfully helped keep language out of the legislation that would have shielded electronic cigarette manufacturers from the Food and Drug Administration approval process that regulates the latest generation of tobacco products. The FDA approval process helps remove those products from the shelves if the agency deems them harmful.

CDC opioid prescription drug overdose prevention activity
The program received $70 million, an increase of $50 million from fiscal year 2015. The CDC is providing evidence-based opioid drug overdose prevention research. The ADA is participating in developing strategies to halt opioid abuse and providing education to prescribers on the dangers of the drug.