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House of Delegates expands ADA health care reform policy

Honolulu—The 2009 House of Delegates in annual session expanded ADA health care reform policy for legislative advocacy. The policy says, "the ADA shall direct its lobbying efforts to assure that legislators fully understand the consequences of any health care reform legislation."

Dr. Ron Tankersley, ADA president, enunciated the extended policy in an Oct. 22, 2009, "Dear Colleague" eGRAM delivered to more than 82,000 Association members, a higher than the usual 70,000-plus delivery rate for ADA eGRAMs.

"The ADA continues to advocate for a common-sense approach that maintains the private delivery system, does not penalize those who choose a higher level of health care, improves the public health infrastructure, and ensures that the insurance industry provides consumers with the coverage and care that they pay for," Dr. Tankersley said.

"Right now, no version of health care reform merits our support," the ADA president said.

Dr. Tankersley's eGRAM notes the "very promising development" of support among U.S. House of Representatives and Senate Democrats for repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson federal antitrust exemption for the health insurance industry as part of health care reform.

"The ADA has been the most vocal group in Washington calling for this action, and there is growing momentum to strip the exemption away from health insurers," Dr. Tankersley said (ADA News Today Oct. 16, Grassroots activism spurs insurance exemption legislation).

Res. 60H-2009, adopted as amended, says that in addition to policy approved by the 2008 House of Delegates, "the ADA shall also advocate that any health care reform proposal:

  • maintains the private health care system;
  • should increase opportunities for individuals to obtain health insurance coverage in all U.S. jurisdictions;
  • assures that insurance coverage is affordable, portable and available without regard to preexisting health conditions;
  • develops prevention strategies that encourage individuals to accept responsibility for maintaining their health and which may reduce costs to the health care system;
  • be funded in a sustainable, budget neutral manner that does not include a tax on health care delivery;
  • exempts small business employers from any mandate to provide health coverage;
  • include incentives for individuals and employers to provide health insurance coverage;
  • contain medical liability (tort) and insurance reforms;
  • encourage the use of electronic health records with rigorous privacy standards; and
  • The American Dental Association supports Health Savings Accounts, Flexible Spending Accounts or any other tax incentive programs that allow alternative methods of funding health care costs."

The expanded health care reform policy also stipulates that:

  • "the ADA shall direct its lobbying efforts to assure that legislators fully understand the consequences of any health care reform legislation;
  • the ADA direct its lobbying efforts to inform our federal legislators of the ADA's existing health care reform policy and advocate for efforts to implement it, and
  • the ADA's Health Care Reform policy be promoted to the dental profession and the public through the ADA News, ADA Web site and other appropriate avenues of communication."

The new policy expands on policy approved by the House of Delegates at the San Antonio annual session. Res. 38H-2008 emphasizes that oral health is essential for a healthy America and integral to the health policy debate (ADA News Today Nov. 4, 2008, Health care reform policy).

The 2008 policy responded to recommendations of the ADA's Future of Health Care/Universal Coverage Task Force 2007-2008 with the expectation (as indicated in the 2008 Annual Reports and Resolutions) that with this guidance "the ADA should be well positioned to participate in the discussion."

For additional information and resources on health care reform and the McCarran-Ferguson exemption visit ADA's advocacy Web site at www.ada.org/goto/advocacy