Fighting for Dentistry: ADA 2015-2016 Lobbying Accomplishments

By Susan L. Wood, D.D.S.

WoodSusanEven in an election year and with a divided Congress, the American Dental Association’s committed advocacy on behalf of the profession has achieved results. I can attest to the day-in and day-out dedication of ADA staff and leadership as well as their visible presence on Capitol Hill.

The AAE reinforces ADA efforts by supporting the American Dental Political Action Committee and by co-signing to targeted communications to key legislators and regulators. Successes from the ADA’s 2015-2016 advocacy efforts include the following Congressional actions:

  • Obtained a permanent extension of Section 179 of the Tax Code, which allows deductions for purchase of new equipment and property up to $1,000.
  • Delayed for two years the implementation of the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices. The goal is elimination of the tax.
  • Delayed implication of the Medicare Part D “opt in”/”opt out” mandate while working for its repeal and also providing members with compliance information, should the regulation become effective.
  • Delayed for two years the “Cadillac Tax,” which imposes a 40% excise tax on highcost, employer-sponsored health plans. This tax has unintended consequences, including adverse impacts on FSAS that are often used for dental care.
  • Defeated the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which included a provision to reduce the rank of Army, Navy and Air Force Dental Officers.

This represents just a few of the many issues the ADA is engaged with year-round as the wheels turn in Washington. There also are several recurring matters to address, such as the annual appropriations process; the ADA must fight each year to maintain and increase funding for oral health and oral health research. And while a delay in the advocacy arena is a “win,” the work does not stop as we continue to fight for a full repeal.

ADA’s 2016 Washington Leadership Conference takes place on May 2-4. I will represent the AAE at that event and participate in “Hill Day” visits with my Arizona Dental Association colleagues. A number of AAE members also attend the WLC as part of their state delegations, and I urge anyone interested in getting more involved in grassroots advocacy to explore this option. I also encourage all AAE members to visit the ADA Engage and sign up for ADA Action Alerts – it’s an easy, yet very effective, way to participate in the advocacy process.

Dr. Susan L. Wood is an associate endodontist at Phoenix Endodontist Group in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics and serves on the Foundation for Endodontics Board of Trustees.