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Association continues to advocate for key oral health issues

March 14, 2017

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — Following the March 6 introduction of the American Health Care Act, the draft legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the Association continues to advocate for key oral health issues on Capitol Hill.

The American Health Care Act was introduced by House Republicans to the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees and both committees have since passed the legislation. The next step for the bill will be the budget committee, followed by a House floor vote.

The legislation contains some provisions the ADA supports, such as expanding the use of health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts and eliminating most ACA taxes. And it contains some provisions that cause concern, such as changing the Medicaid program to a per capita cap allotment system and not offering the use of tax credits for the purchase of stand-alone dental plans.

Of course, this initial proposal is subject to considerable change as it moves through the legislative process. 

“During this busy time in Washington, the ADA has made significant efforts to make sure the Association’s position has been disseminated and heard,” said ADA President Gary L. Roberts.

These efforts include participating in more than 100 meetings with members of the House of Representatives and Senate and their staffs, including critical meetings with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas; and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wy., chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. The ADA has also met with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to discuss Medicaid and repealing the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption.

The ADA will continue advocating for dentistry during the Association’s March 27-28 Lobby Day, when more than 1,000 dentists and dental students will join forces to talk to Congress about the importance of oral health and other key issues affecting the profession.

Additionally, more than 3,000 ADA members have written to their legislators, urging them to prioritize oral health in new health care legislation and to support H.R. 372, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, which would repeal McCarran-Ferguson.

Additional Association efforts include:

  • Hosting a Feb. 28 briefing on Capitol Hill with the ADA Health Policy Institute, Kaiser Family Foundation and the Children’s Health Dental Project to raise awareness on children’s oral health issues.
  • Urging members of the House Ways and Means Committee to make sure new legislation does “not result in Americans losing dental coverage gained under the ACA” in a Jan. 11 letter. The letter also emphasized that new legislation should support the doctor-patient relationship, ensure a competitive insurance marketplace and protect vulnerable populations who rely on Medicaid.
  • Requesting members of the House and Senate expand the use of health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts, and to protect and enhance dental coverage in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program in health care reform legislation.
  • Urging members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Senate Finance Committee to protect and enhance dental coverage in Medicaid and CHIP when considering health care reform legislation.
  • Asking members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Committee on Ways and Means to support the ADA’s position on key provisions they should consider during the committee’s March 8 mark-up.

To follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts, visit ADA.org/advocacy.