ASDA launches grassroot initiatives to support dental students and the profession and works to establish a legacy of action-oriented advocacy on behalf of their members’ patients and the practice of dentistry. This includes lobbying at the state and national level on behalf of the dental profession.
This year as Tufts’ ASDA Legislative liaisons, we attended two main lobbying events. The first event was Lobby Day in Washington DC, where nearly 1,000 dental students participated alongside ADA dentists to lobby for national issues in dentistry. This was the largest event in ASDA history. The second event was Beacon Hill Lobby Day, an event specific to lobbying on issues affecting Massachusetts dentistry. Over 250 Massachusetts dentists and dental students attended this event to lobby for the dental profession.
At both of these events, we were able to sit down with senators, state representatives, or their chiefs-of-staff to explain which bills we would like to see passed and how these bills would personally impact each of us. We were able to use our voice to link our peers at TUSDM to both organized dental associations and national government representatives. Summaries of some of the most important bills we discussed are listed below:
Examples of Bills discussed at Washington DC Lobby Day:
H.R. 372 Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2017
- This bill would amend the McCarran-Ferguson Act to authorize the Justice Department to enforce the full range of federal antitrust laws against health insurance companies.
- Currently, health insurance and dental insurance do not abide by the same laws as other businesses, so this bill would help inject more competition into the insurance marketplace by authorizing greater antitrust enforcement in instances where state regulators fail to act.
- This would help promote lower prices, greater consumer choice, and increased innovation through robust competition.
H.R. 1614 Student Loan Programs under the Higher Education Act
● Lower the interest rates on federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans as well as the total amount of interest that can add onto on federal graduate student loans.
● Reinstate eligibility for graduate and professional degree students to use federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans to finance their graduate education.
● Permit federal graduate student loans to be refinanced more than once to take advantage of lower interest rates and better economic conditions.
Examples of Bills discussed at Beacon Hill Lobby Day:
H. 2197 An Act Relative to Dental Service Corporations
- Delta Dental of Massachusetts (Delta) is currently a non-profit entity and is overseen by the Division of Insurance (DOI); however, in recent years, Delta has taken steps to move all business to a for-profit entity, disallowing the DOI to oversee business practices.
- This threatens a provider’s ability to always refer to the very best specialist available, restricts Delta insured members’ choice of interest, and prevents certain dentists from signing with Delta.
- This bill aims to impose the new for-profit Delta the same appropriate oversights when Delta operated as a non-profit.
H. 199 An Act Relative to Dental Licensing Exams
- Current Dental Licensing exams are done by a live patient exam, placing an excessive logistical and financial burden on applicants for licensure, and can inadvertently provide improper care for patients.
- The live patient exam falls short of providing a quality assessment of an education and training because it is too focused on a limited set of procedures.
- Does not accurately reflect the multifaceted requirements and responsibilities demanded of dentists today, discourages comprehensive care of the patient, and the process of obtaining a patient for this exam can be extremely burdensome.
Overall, as legislative liaisons, we were able to both learn more about advocacy and educate our ASDA chapter on current legislative issues. It showed us the impact of what advocacy and lobbying can have on our future as dentists, and we plan to utilize what we have learned for years to come.
Visit ASDA’s Engage website or contact one of your legislative liaisons right at your own chapter to find out more about the issues affecting dentistry today or how to get involved!
Tuft’s ASDA Legislative Liaisons
Devon Ptak, Mohil Parakhiya, and Mythilee Kugathasan