Why advocacy matters in 2017

By | March 24, 2017

AdvocacyWashington — From working with federal agencies to educating members of Congress on dentalrelated issues, advocacy has become an integral part of the dental profession’s activities. But when you’re a full-time practitioner with a full-time life outside of dentistry, who has time to monitor every single issue?

Here are some of the key advocacy issues for new dentists to pay attention to in 2017:

Repeal and replace ACA
As the new Congress considers replacement legislation for the Affordable Care Act, the ADA is on record stating that any effort to replace the existing law should not result in Americans losing dental coverage gained under the ACA. The ADA has also told Congress that any new legislation should “emphasize value while supporting the doctor-patient relationship, ensure a competitive insurance marketplace, and safeguard the most vulnerable among us who rely on Medicaid for their health coverage.”

Student debt
The ADA is working with lawmakers, education leaders, dental students and others to help mitigate the alarming levels of educational debt that new dentists face after graduating dental school. This includes reforming parts of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which provides the statutory authority for most federal student loan programs to operate, including those most widely used by dental students.

Antitrust Reform (McCarran-Ferguson)
During a February hearing, the ADA submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging committee members to reexamine the antitrust exemption enjoyed by health insurance companies as a result of the 1945 McCarran-Ferguson law, a federal law that exempts the business of insurance from most federal regulation. In its testimony the ADA said, “If insurance companies had to observe the antitrust laws when setting rates and designing coverage, they would have to compete more aggressively with each other for both individual customers and purchasers of large group policies by keeping premiums comparatively low and benefits comparatively high…This would include offering plans that the most qualified professionals would want to participate in, which in turn would help make such plans more attractive to consumers. The better plans that would result from insurance company competition would likely provide for a greater selection of dental treatment options and better coverage for them. These positive developments could result in new insurance companies, different pricing, different coverage options, and different
contractual terms.”

Want to get involved?
Sign up for ADA Engage, the American Dental Association’s legislative action center.

Engage allows ADA members to contact their legislators and stay informed on critical public policy issues that affect dentistry. The ADA uses Engage to send out action alerts
and to inform dentists about critical public policy issues that impact the dental profession. It also enables dentists to share their voice directly with legislators. Sign up at cqrcengage.com/dental/home.

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