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ADA sets agenda for lame-duck Congress

Washington—The Association seeks passage of three bills of interest to the profession during Congress’ lame duck session and will focus attention on the U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives has passed all three measures.

  • H.R. 4626, a bill to restore the application of the federal antitrust laws to the business of health insurance to protect competition and consumers, would repeal an exemption provided by the McCarran-Ferguson Act of March 9, 1945. The House passed H.R. 4626 by a vote of 406-19. ADA grassroots dentists have offered support for the repeal and Association lobbyists are focusing attention on the Senate in the waning days of the 111th Congress.
  • The House of Representatives by a 400-0 vote approved H.R. 2345 to exempt most dental offices from the Federal Trade Commission’s Red Flags Rule, which requires financial institutions and creditors to develop written plans to prevent and detect identity theft. The Senate has not acted. However, new legislative language designed to exempt small businesses from the regulation could pave the way to bipartisan Senate consensus. The FTC has said that dentists and other health professionals are creditors subject to the regulation depending on their credit arrangements with patients but has delayed enforcement pending legislative and judicial review.
  • H.R. 903, the Dental Emergency Responder Act of 2010, gained House approval Sept. 28 following an ADA grassroots campaign. The Association is working with lawmakers to bring the bill to the Senate floor. The legislation is intended “to enhance the roles of dentists and allied dental personnel in the nation’s disaster response framework.” The House passed the bill by voice vote under a suspension of the rules, an expeditious procedure used for relatively non-controversial or emergency measures and requiring a two-thirds vote of those members voting.

The chance of these measures improves the longer the 111th stays in session. The first order of business for the lame-duck Congress is setting a budget for fiscal year 2011. Expiring tax cuts and other tax legislation will also get attention. When a Congress expires, measures die if they have not yet been enacted.

The 112th Congress is scheduled to meet from Jan. 3, 2011 to Jan. 3, 2013.