Advocacy: HDA Working for You

Information on Foreign Trained Dentists Program

International Dentist Program-UCSF

The UCSF International Dentist Program (IDP) is a two-year (8-quarter) program administered by the UCSF School of Dentistry. The program may extend beyond two years depending on the student’s ability to meet all graduation requirements. Read More

Our Advocacy Efforts include:

Holding Congressional Briefings on Hispanic Oral Health Issues

Fighting for Federal Funding for Public Health Programs

Championing Community Water Fluoridation

Working with Coalition Partners to Advocate for the Profession and Access to Care

Growing the Oral Health Caucus

and more!

2016 HDA Advocacy Update

With the Second Session of the 114th Congress underway, congressional observers were speculating on what Congress can accomplish in 2016, especially with a condensed congressional calendar due to the upcoming election in November. In the First Session of the 114th Congress, Congress passed a two-year extension of CHIP funding which President Barack Obama signed into law. CHIP ensures that uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid receive a guaranteed dental benefit. However, several pieces of legislation of interest to the Hispanic Dental Association have been introduced and have yet to advance.

On Issues Affecting the Dental Profession

The Organized Dentistry Coalition (ODC), in which HDA participates, is working to address several policy issues facing the profession in this Congress. Several bills have been re-introduced, including: H.R. 1677, the Dental Insurance Fairness Act; and H.R.494, Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2015. The original sponsor of both bills is U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), a dentist and member of the Congressional Oral Health Caucus.  The aim of the former bill is to help consumers receive the full value of their dental coverage by supporting common sense reforms that would provide a more equitable system for dental patients.  The latter bill, H.R.494, aims to amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act and would authorize the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to enforce the federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct.

The ODC is also working on H.R.4062, Protecting Seniors Access to Proper Care Act of 2015.  The bill, introduced by Congressmen Kenny Marchant (R-TX) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), will remove the mandate for dentists – and other providers who do not participate in Medicare – to enroll in Medicare in order for their patients’ prescriptions to be honored by Medicare Part D.

Finally, the ODC is working to urge the administration to re-establish the Chief Dental Officer position at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  The position has been vacant since 2010. HRSA provides over $50 million to fund oral health programs each year. However, without a Chief Dental Officer, the ability to execute budget authority and resources to oversee the programs is severely hampered.

Student Debt Relief

Of particular interest to HDA because of its significant student-based membership would be ODC’s interest to support legislation that addresses student loan repayment and debt.  For example, in the U.S. Senate, there is bipartisan support for S.85, The Repay Act of 2015, which is sponsored by Senator Angus King (I-ME).  In essence, the legislation would consolidate many of the benefits of the current maze of repayment programs into a single, simplified income-based repayment option, enabling prospective borrowers to have the choice of either a 10-year fixed repayment plan or a single, income-driven plan.

On the House side, Congressman Charlie Rangel’s (D-NY) legislation, H.R.509, Student Loan Interest Deduction Act of 2015, is of interest to the ODC.  The bill would amend the IRS code to increase the maximum tax deduction for interest paid on any qualified education loan to $5,000 ($10,000 for married couples filing a joint tax return).

Budget & Appropriations

With a budget agreement in place (although tenuous as it may be), the FY2017 appropriations process is underway. In February, President Barack Obama presented his budget to Congress, however, it is dead-on-arrival.  Congress will work to advance each of the 12 appropriations bills, but what gets accomplished in an election year remains to be seen. For what it is worth, the president’s budget request does provide insight on how the administration views federal programs.  For example, Oral Health Training Programs at HRSA, which are designed to increase access to culturally competent, high-quality dental health services to rural and other underserved communities by increasing the number of oral health care providers working in underserved areas and improving training programs for oral health care providers, were recommended for level (same) funding for FY2017 as the FY2016 enacted level, $35,873,000.  Moreover, the president requested a $3.1 million increase to the Health Professions Training for Diversity Program at HRSA. Under this program, the Centers of Excellence (COE) Program and the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) Program, both of which benefit the dentistry profession, are administered.  Also of interest because of its work to target high-risk children, the Division of Oral Health at the CDC, received an $18 million recommendation in the president’s budget; the same level as the FY16 enacted level.

Children’s Health Insurance Program & Primary Care Cliff

Although a two-year extension of CHIP funding was enacted in April 2015, it means that funding will expire at the end of FY2017 (September 30, 2017).  Therefore, there will be a need to extend CHIP funding through to FY2019.

Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act

For those HDA members with an interest in geriatric dental care, there is a big push by the aging community to pass the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA) in this Congress.  The bill, S.192, passed the U.S. Senate by simple voice vote in July 2015. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives has yet to take up the bill, which currently rests with the House Committee on Education and Workforce.  Why is the OAA of importance to the dental/oral health community?  For the first time, the OAA contains a provision that provides for oral health screenings for older adults within the Aging Network.

Legislation Addressing Heath Equity and Access

Of course, what is core to the HDA’s mission statement is the elimination of oral health disparities in the Hispanic community.  Currently, the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) Community Working Group, of which HDA is a participant, is working to re-introduce the Health Equity and Accountability Act.  For this Congress, the Congressional Black Caucus, and its chair of the CBC’s Health Braintrust, Congresswoman Robyn Kelly (D-IL), has taken the lead (in the last Congress, it was the Congressional Hispanic Caucus).  The legislation is going through final tweaking with the Tri-Caucus leaders in preparation for its reintroduction, which is expected this spring.  The Working Group also plans to hold a Capitol Hill Day centered on the legislation.

Another bill that has been re-introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives is the Comprehensive Dental Reform Act.  The Senate bill, S.570, is sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the House companion bill, H.R.1055, by Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who is a co-chair of the Congressional Oral Health Caucus.  In sum, the bill aims to: expand coverage, create new access points, enhance the workforce, improve education, and fund new research.  The legislation has yet to advance out of subcommittee.

HDA Advocacy

114th Congress Advocacy Update

Children’s Health Insurance Program & Primary Care Cliff

The House and Senate passed H.R.2, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, and it was signed into law by President Barack Obama.  As the bill’s title indicates, in addition to addressing Medicare reform, H.R.2 extended funding for CHIP for two years.  CHIP ensures that uninsured children who do not qualify for Medicaid receive a guaranteed dental benefit.

The bill also addressed the “Primary Care Cliff” by including $7.2 billion in mandatory funding for the Health Centers Program, as well as continued funding for the National Health Service Corp (NHSC) and Teaching Health Centers (THC) for two years.  These three federal programs provide preventative dental care, dental education assistance, and dental training, respectively, to underserved and vulnerable communities.

Budget & Appropriations

Congress has also made progress in terms of starting the federal budget process for fiscal year 2016.  Both the House and Senate each passed its respective budget resolution, which is essentially a budgetary blueprint.  However, both House and Senate budget resolutions keep sequestration in place.  Therefore, by law, the budget cap (limit) on non-defense discretionary funding will shrink by $38 billion for FY16 (7.1% decrease) unless Congress acts to address sequestration relief like it did with the Murray-Ryan Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. HDA has supported efforts to urge congressional appropriators to restore FY2016 budget allocations for the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations subcommittees to the FY 2010 level of $163.6 billion.

On Issues Affecting the Dental Profession

The Organized Dentistry Coalition (ODC), in which HDA participates, is working to address policy issues facing the profession in this Congress. Several bills have been re-introduced, including: H.R. 1677, the Dental Insurance Fairness Act; and H.R.494, Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2015. The original sponsor of both bills is U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), a dentist and member of the Congressional Oral Health Caucus.  The aim of the former bill is to help consumers receive the full value of their dental coverage by supporting common sense reforms that would provide a more equitable system for dental patients.  The latter bill, H.R.494, aims to amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act and would authorize the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to enforce the federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies engaged in anticompetitive conduct.  Both bills have yet to advance out of subcommittee.

 

Student Debt Relief

Of particular interest to HDA because of its significant student-based membership would be ODC’s interest to support legislation that addresses student loan repayment and debt.  For example, in the U.S. Senate, there is bipartisan support for S.85, The Repay Act of 2015, which is sponsored by Senator Angus King (I-ME).  In essence, the legislation would consolidates many of the benefits of the current maze of repayment programs into a single, simplified income-based repayment option, enabling prospective borrowers to have the choice of either a 10-year fixed repayment plan or a single, income-driven plan.

On the House side, Congressman Charlie Rangel’s (D-NY) legislation, H.R.509, Student Loan Interest Deduction Act of 2015, is of interest to the ODC.  The bill would amend the IRS code to increase the maximum tax deduction for interest paid on any qualified education loan to $5,000 ($10,000 for married couples filing a joint tax return).

Both pieces of legislation have yet to advance out of subcommittee.

Legislation Addressing Heath Equity and Access

Of course, what is core to the HDA’s mission statement is the elimination of oral health disparities in the Hispanic community.  Currently, the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) Community Working Group, of which HDA is a participant, is working to re-introduce the Health Equity and Accountability Act in the current Congress.  For this Congress, the HEAA Community Working Group has transitioned the lead from the Hispanic/Latino community to the African American community.   The HEAA Working Group is reviewing the legislation and tweaking it for introduction, which is tentatively planned for spring 2016.  HDA’s role (as it was previously) is to ensure oral health is included in all pertinent provisions of the bill.

Another bill that has been re-introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives is the Comprehensive Dental Reform Act.  The bill is sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who is a co-chair of the Congressional Oral Health Caucus.  In sum, the bill aims to: expand coverage, create new access points, enhance the workforce, improve education, and fund new research.  The legislation has yet to advance out of subcommittee.

Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act

For those HDA members with an interest in geriatric dental care, there is a big push by the aging community to pass the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA) in this Congress.  Again, its reauthorization was stalled in the previous Congress.  However, in this Congress, the bill, S.192, moved fairly quickly out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) with strong bipartisan support.  Unfortunately, it has failed to come to Senate Floor for a vote by the full Senate.   June is a hopeful target.  Why is the OAA of importance to the dental/oral health community?  For the first time, the OAA contains a provision that provides for oral health screenings for older adults within the Aging Network.

Oral Health Caucus

The Congressional Oral Health Caucus is a bipartisan body of U.S. representatives dedicated to making oral health a priority in Washington. Chaired by U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the Oral Health Caucus provides a forum for education, discussion and an exchange of ideas on oral health care and research through Caucus-sponsored briefings, legislative seminars, and educational programs. Also, Caucus members are strong supporters of funding for dental and craniofacial research performed at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

To see a list of U.S. representatives who are members of the Congressional Oral Health Caucus, please click on the link below.

http://www.fnidcr.org/patient/oralHealthCaucus.html

HDA encourages you to ask your U.S. representative to join the Congressional Oral Health Caucus if you do not see your U.S. representative listed. Please contact HDA if you have questions about how to contact your U.S. representative.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Members

If you would like to contact members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, click on their name and submit a contact form through their site.

List of Members- 114th Congress

 Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38) (D)
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1) (D)
Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20) (D)
Rep. Ruben Gallego AZ-7 D
Rep. Pete Aguilar CA-31 D
Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-34) (D)
Rep. Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) (D)
Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16) (D)
Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28) (D)
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-3) (D)
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (IL-04) (D)
Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-03) (D)
Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ-13) (D)
Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-32) (D)
Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (PR-At Large) (D)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) (D)
Rep. Raul Ruiz
Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan NMI-AT Large D
Rep. Loretta Sanchez CA-46 D
Rep. Jose Serrano NY-15 D
Rep. Albio Sires NJ-8 D
Rep. Norma Torres CA-35 D
Rep. Juan Vargas
Rep. Filemon Vela TX-34 D
Rep. Nydia Velázquez NY-7 D

Fluoridation

Community Water Fluoridation

icon Community_Fluoridation.pdf (153 KB)

Congressional Letter on Benefits of Community Water Fluoridation

icon Congressional Letter on Benefits of Community Water Fluoridation