By being active in grassroots programs at both the state and national levels, you will have a direct role in the fight for oral health and for the protection of your profession.
It’s SO important to maintain a political presence by responding to ODA and ADA action alerts, meeting with your state and federal representatives, and attending political events. So why should you get and stay involved politically? At both the state and federal capitals, they are going to make decisions that affect your patients and your practice. It's a certainty. You have a choice: You can sit on the sidelines or you can get involved and help shape the outcome.
Dentist Day at the Capitol
Dentist Day at the Capitol is scheduled for Tuesday, February 18th. We’ll start at 4:00 that day with a brief orientation so we can learn all about the ODA’s legislative agenda. Immediately following, 5:00-6:30, we’ll host a reception for all state legislators and other elected officials. This will all happen at the ODA building. We need a STRONG showing of ODA members (including students)! REGISTER HERE
STATE LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY
The 2019 Legislative Session was a HUGE success! The ODA passed two insurance bills that should save you our members some major headaches and money in their offices:
- HB 1157, effective November 1st, requires insurance companies to get a provider’s permission before paying a reimbursement with a virtual credit card. This type of payment can cost dental offices up to 6% out of the reimbursement because they have to be run through a credit card processor. For a $1M practice, this can mean $25,000-$50,000 per year in lost revenue.
- We also passed SB 948 requiring insurance companies to honor their prior authorization and confirmation of coverage determinations. When a dentist obtains confirmation of coverage/benefits from an insurance company, then performs a procedure and files a claim that is paid, this bill would prevent that claim from later being recouped if the insurer says the patient didn’t actually have the coverage/benefits the insurer said the patient did at the time the dentist checked. This new law is also effective on November 1st.
The ODA Council on Governmental Affairs is currently working to finalize the ODA’s legislative priorities for next year.
FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY
In addition to the MANY federal issues the ADA addresses on behalf of dentistry every day, during the annual ADA Dentist & Student Lobby Day in the spring, representatives from the ODA and OUCOD ASDA meet with each of Oklahoma’s Congressmen and Senators and lobby for ADA-championed legislation. A sample of those bills include:
S. 350 / H.R. 1418 – McCarren-Ferguson Repeal for Health Insurance
With this bill, the ADA is asking for a repeal of the McCarren-Ferguson Act which exempts the insurance industry from antitrust laws. Passage of this bill would empower the Federal Trade Commission and the US Department of Justice to enforce the full range of federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct. This bill will not interfere with the states’ abilities to maintain and enforce their own insurance regulations, antitrust statutes, and consumer protection laws. This bill is narrowly drawn to apply only to the business of health insurance, including dental insurance. Repeal of the limited antitrust exemption for health insurance companies would help inject more competition into the insurance marketplace, promoting lower prices, greater consumer choice, and increased innovation through robust competition.
S. 560 / H.R. 1379 – Ensuring Smiles Act (ELSA)
This bill would ensure that children suffering from congenital anomalies and birth defects are able to receive the treatment they need by requiring all private group and individual health plans to cover medically necessary services, including inpatient and outpatient care and reconstructive services and procedures, as well as adjunctive dental, orthodontic or prosthodontic support. One in every 33 children in the US is born with a congenital anomaly or birth defect that affects the way they look, develop or function. A number of these congenital anomalies include severe oral and facial defects such as cleft lip or palate, skeletal and maxillofacial deformities, hypodontia and enamel hypoplasia, which can interfere with a child’s ability to breathe, speak and/or eat in a normal manner. Many insurance companies consider these services to be cosmetic, and while they may cover the preliminary surgeries, they will delay or often deny follow-up or corrective procedures, including dental work.
Action for Dental Health
With the recent passage of the Action for Dental Health Act, the ADA hopes the legislation will lead to:
- Improving oral health education and dental disease prevention.
- Reducing the use of emergency rooms for dental care.
- Helping patients establish dental homes.
- Reducing barriers, including language barriers and cultural barriers, to receiving care.
- Facilitating dental care to nursing home residents.
Student Loan Programs and the Higher Education Act
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. The various ADA bills before Congress would:
- Protect the Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan (Direct Loan) and Grad PLUS loan programs for graduate and professional degree students.
- Reinstate eligibility for graduate and professional degree students to use federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans to finance their graduate education.
- Lower the interest rate caps and the total amount of interest that can accrue and compound on Direct and Grad PLUS loans.
- Permit federal graduate student loans to be refinanced whenever interest rates are lower and economic conditions are more favorable.
- Lower the administrative fees and simplify (and add more transparency to) the federal graduate student loan application process.
- Extend the deferment period until after new dentist has completed his or her medical/dental internship or residency.
- Simplify and add more transparency to the federal graduate student loan application process.
- Remove the barriers that prohibit those with private graduate student loans from taking advantage of federal student loan forgiveness/service payback programs.
- Encourage institutions of higher education and lenders to offer training to help students make informed decisions about how to finance their graduate education.
DENPAC / ADPAC
DENPAC is the political action committee of your Oklahoma Dental Association and ADPAC is the political action committee for the American Dental Association. BOTH work hard to protect the profession of dentistry. And we do that by “friendraising” – by making political contributions to dentistry-friendly lawmakers. Our friends at the state and federal capitols are made, frankly, with contributions to their campaigns and THIS TAKES MONEY! Through the financial contributions of member dentists, DENPAC and ADPAC work to elect candidates who understand the importance of dentistry and the link between oral health and overall health. Regardless of party affiliation, DENPAC and ADPAC support candidates who will be strong advocates for dentists and the patients we serve.