DOC Access Act Introduced
On July 15th, Rep. David Loebsack of Iowa and Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter of Georgia introduced the Dental and Optometric (DOC) Access Act, H.R. 3762, in the House of Representatives. The act would prohibit certain dental and vision plans from setting fees for non-covered services. The bill also would also prohibit these plans from imposing restrictions on medical plan participation and setting limits on a doctor's choice of lab.
Currently, 39 states have passed laws limiting the ways that insurance companies can interfere in terms of fee-setting and the doctor-patient relationship. The DOC Access Act is narrowly drawn to apply only to certain employer-funded dental and vision plans regulated by the federal government. This legislation would not interfere with the states’ abilities to maintain and enforce their own insurance regulations and laws, as well as complement the work already done by most state legislatures across the country.
The ADA strongly supports H.R. 3762, and believes that the DOC Access Act would bring needed balance to contract negotiations between providers, who are often small business owners, and large dental insurance companies. Several dentist members of Congress, including Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, Rep. Drew Ferguson of Georgia, and Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, also served as original cosponsors of this bill. The ADA encourages the passage of the DOC Access Act, as it is time to curb anti-patient and anti-competitive practices of dental insurance plans.
[Contact: Natalie Hales 202-898-2404 or email@example.com]
House Approves Multiple Appropriations Bills
The House has passed 10 out of 12 appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2020. The Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill included a $23 million increase for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The bill also included appropriations report language requested by the ADA and other dental groups, including language asking the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to appoint Chief Dental Officers. The Interior Appropriations Bill, included a $23 million increase for the Indian Health Service (IHS) dental programs, as well as report language on the IHS dental support centers and electronic dental records.
Last week, the House approved the Bipartisan Budget Act by a vote of 214-149. The measure raises the spending caps by $321 billion and suspends the debt ceiling until July 2021. The agreement would also cancel automatic cuts that would have reduced domestic spending by $55 billion and military spending by $71 billion compared to 2019. Assuming the budget deal clears the Senate before the August recess, it is expected that the Senate Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittee will aim to markup its FY 2020 spending bill the second week of September.
Fiscal Year 2020 House-approved funding includes:
- Centers for Disease Control Division of Oral Health: $20 million
- HRSA Oral Health Training Program: $40 million
- HRSA Area Health Education Centers: $39 million
- HRSA Health Careers Opportunity Program: $14 million
- HRSA Ryan White Dental Part F: $13 million
- NIDCR: $484 million
- IHS Dental Program: $227 million
- Department of Defense Military Dental Research: $10 million
The Senate has not advanced any appropriations bills for Fiscal 2020, which begins Oct. 1, 2019. Senate appropriators have opted to wait until they pass a deal on overall spending levels with the House of Representatives and the White House.
[Contact: Jennifer Fisher 202-789-5160 or firstname.lastname@example.org]
ELSA Action Alert
The Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act, (S. 560/H.R. 1379) or ELSA, would help patients with craniofacial anomalies. ELSA would require all private group and individual health plans to cover medically necessary services resulting from a congenital anomaly or birth defect. This legislation is crucial to ensure that children suffering from congenital anomalies and birth defects are able to receive the treatment they need.
This month, in celebration with National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness Month, the ADA sent action alerts asking dentists to urge your members of Congress to co-sponsor ELSA legislation. Sign up today to get involved with critical public policy issues, and to stay in contact with your legislators.
[Contact: Natalie Hales 202-898-2404 or email@example.com or Peter Aiello 202-789-5168 or firstname.lastname@example.org]