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AAE Members and Stakeholders visit Capitol to Advocate for Dentistry

By: Catherine French, Assistant Executive Director for Advocacy and Professional Relations and Michael Dobrow, Integrated Communications Specialist

On March 20-21, 2022, AAE members and Association stakeholders participated in the American Dental Association’s (ADA) and the American Dental Student Association’s (ADSA) ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day in Washington D.C. The annual event provided dentists with opportunities to learn more about issues and policies that affect the nation’s oral health.  It also provided opportunities to hear from political analysts, subject matter experts and other dental professionals. Most importantly, the event enabled endodontists to meet with members of Congress and other federal officials to ensure endodontic voices are heard on policy matters.  

Welcome screen at the American Dental Association’s (ADA) and the American Dental Student Association’s (ADSA) ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day in Washington D.C.

This year, the AAE was represented by Drs. Maria C. Maranga, Mark B. Desrosiers, Rodney V. Scott, and Jason F. Foreman, along with endodontic resident Julia Y. Cheung, AAE Deputy Executive Director Trina Andresen-Coe and AAE Assistant Executive Director for Advocacy and Professional Relations, Catherine French. They utilized talking points, as well as personal stories to influence their Congressperson and/or Senator’s stance on oral health initiatives. 

AAE Chair Practice Affairs Committee, Dr Rodney Scott (top row) joined with several of his Maryland constituents to educate Congressmen Steny Hoyer and Kweisi Mfume’s offices on the need for better oral health care policies across the US.

AAE Chair of Public and Professional Relations Committee Dr. Mark Desrosiers met (via Zoom) with Connecticut Representative Joe Courtney’s health care legislative assistant to encourage co-sponsorship of a bill to continue to protect students from interest rate hikes on their school loans as well as deferment on loan repayments until dental residency is complete.

Working to close the loophole in federal payers; exemption from setting fees for non-covered services, AAE Representative to ADPAC Dr. Jason Foreman and other Texas dentists and dental students met with Representative Kevin Brady’s legislative assistant Kelsi Wilson.

Dr. Jason Foreman and Dr. Mark Desrosiers had the opportunity to chat with Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, DMD, during a reception.

Some of the issues that brought members to DC and are currently being worked on by the AAE are:

Dental and Optometric Care (DOC) Access Act
While 41 states already have passed laws that limit interference from payers when the dentist delivers services not covered by insurers, some payers claim they are exempt from having to follow state law. The DOC Access legislation (S1793/ HR 3461) would prohibit dental, and vision plans from setting the fees network doctors may charge for services not covered by the insurers.  

Student Loan Refinancing & Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act
While these bills will not solve the student debt crisis, they will help offset the unprecedented financial challenges that these essential health care providers face at graduation.

The Student Loan Refinancing Act (HR 2160) would: 

  • Provide multiple opportunities for borrowers to re-finance their federal Direct Loans; Direct PLUS Loans and Direct Consolidations Loans when interest rates are lower 
  • Ensure the refinanced rates are fixed to protect borrowers from interest rate hikes when economic conditions are less favorable.  

Medicaid Dental Benefit Act (MDBA) of 2021
A long-standing lack of focus on adult oral health care from federal and state governments has created a patchwork of dental coverage by state Medicaid programs, with less than half of the state’s offering “extensive” dental coverage for adults.  

The MDBA (S 3166/HR 4439) seeks to:   

  • Amend the Social Security Act to improve coverage under the Medicaid program and ensure states provide comprehensive dental services to adult Medicaid beneficiaries 
  • Develop outreach and education programs to strengthen core competencies in delivering competent oral health care 
  • Encourage the development of adult oral health quality and equity measures
  • Require a report to Congress on issues related to adult oral health across all 50 states, tribes, and territories

ELSA, Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (S. 754/ HR 1916) The AAE joined the Organized Dentistry Coalition (ODC), in supporting this measure and also sent a letter to members of Congress. This bipartisan legislation will have a direct impact on patients and will eliminate the existing burdens that prevent access to necessary diagnosis and treatment for those with congenital anomalies or birth defects.  

To learn more about the AAE’s advocacy efforts, please email: