This past Sunday, March 21, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve legislation to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system. The House approved the Senate’s version of healthcare reform with a 219-212 vote. President Obama signed the initial bill into law on Tuesday, March 23. For a quick synopsis of the bill’s main provisions, click here. The majority of the bill’s provisions do not take effect until 2014 and, accordingly, there may be substantial adaptations prior to that date.
In regard to dental provisions, the American Dental Association (ADA) opposed this legislation on the grounds that the bill did not properly address or fund Medicaid dental services. The bill failed to provide basic adult dental benefits under the Medicaid program, and failed to address inadequate provider reimbursement and disruptive administrative barriers. Further, the ADA had concerns with pilot programs involving mid-level provider models and with restrictions on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) that many Americans use to help pay for dental care.
The ADA acknowledged that there were several worthwhile provisions in the bill related to dentistry, including funding increases for public health, school-based programs, federally qualified health centers, and dental loan repayment, as well as oral health education initiatives. The bill would also expand dental coverage for children. Ultimately, however, the ADA felt that the bill did not provide access to adequate oral health services for many low-income Americans and, for that reason, opposed the bill.
Click here to view a letter that the ADA sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last Friday opposing the bill.
The ADA has also published a Q&A document about the bill provisions and their activities related to the bill, which can be accessed by clicking here.
Yesterday, the Senate and House also approved a “reconciliation bill” that contains several fixes to the bill that was signed on Tuesday. The ADA has published a document that compares the enacted healthcare reform bill with the reconciliation measures. Click here to review details on the reconciliation bill.