May 19, 2015
A delegation of eight CDA member dentists traveled to Washington, D.C., April 27-29 to participate in the American Dental Association’s 2015 Washington Leadership Conference. As part of a nationwide effort held every spring to increase awareness about oral health issues, the group lobbied Colorado’s U.S. senators and representatives on three key federal bills—the Action for Dental Health Act (H.R. 539), the Student Loan Refinancing Act (H.R. 649), and the RAISE Health Benefits Act of 2015 (H.R. 1185). The goal of this annual conference is to allow dentists to advocate for their patients and peers at the federal level.
The delegation met with Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet and Reps. Jared Polis and Doug Lamborn. Staff from Reps. Diana DeGette, Scott Tipton, Ken Buck, Ed Perlmutter, and Mike Coffman also spoke with the delegation.
About the Bills
The Action for Dental Health Act, introduced by Reps. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), would allow organizations to qualify for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention oral health grants to support activities that improve oral health education and dental disease prevention. The bill also would help develop and expand outreach programs that establish dental homes in underserved communities.
The Student Loan Refinancing Act, introduced by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), would allow new dentists to refinance their federal loans at any time and multiple times during the life of the loans. With this option, new dentists could take advantage of lower interest rates during more favorable economic conditions. Refinanced rates also would be fixed, protecting new dentists from interest rate hikes in less favorable economic conditions. Reducing debt loan can help provide more options to recent graduates to practice in underserved communities.
The RAISE Health Benefits Act of 2015, introduced by Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), would change the current flexible spending account (FSA) structure to give families more control of the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. It would allow families to carry over all unused funds from one year to the next, raise the savings cap from $2,500 to $5,000 a year, and allow for an additional $500 to be added to the cap for each dependent beyond two. Patients often use FSAs to help pay for dental care.
The ADA needs your help now to get members of Congress to cosponsor the Action for Dental Health Act. According to the ADA, in 2014, an estimated 181 million Americans did not visit a dentist. In 2010, more than 2.1 million people visited an emergency room because of unaddressed dental pain. This is where the Action for Dental Health Act would help. It’s a community-based, three-pronged approach to provide care now to people who suffer from untreated dental disease, strengthen and expand the public/private safety net, and bring disease prevention and education into communities that need it. To send your legislators a note asking them to cosponsor this bill, click here.
The CDA encourages you to contact your U.S. legislators and let them know how important all three of these bills are to the future of dentistry. To send a note to your legislators, visit the ADA’s Engage Legislative Action center.