Legislative updates from the American Student Dental Association

April 2013

From Washington

ASDA members to meet with Congress at Lobby Day
More than 330 dental students from around the country will arrive in Washington, D.C. next week for National Dental Student Lobby Day, April 15-16. They will meet with their legislators and discuss the issues that are critical to dental students and organized dentistry. ASDA members will lobby on behalf of the Earnings Contingent Education Loans (ExCEL) Act, legislation that will simplify and improve student loans for borrowers by, among other things, replacing Subsidized Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford and GradPLUS loans, limiting the interest rate on each loan and mandating that unpaid interest does not compound.

Keynoting the event is the sponsor of the ExCEL Act, Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI).
For more information on the event, please visit ASDA's National Dental Student Lobby Day webpage.
Students meet with Caleb Gilchrist, PhD, senior policy advisor, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)
at Lobby Day 2012.
President Obama attempts to avert federal government shutdown

On March 26, President Obama signed into law a Continuing Resolution (CR) passed by Congress to ensure that the federal government functions through the remainder of the fiscal year (FY). The CR is a six-month stopgap measure enacted to keep government agencies funded through Sept. 30, 2013, maintaining funding at $984 billion. The funding measure includes spending cuts that were part of the sequester - $85 billion in across-the-board cuts implemented earlier this month after lawmakers failed to reach a budget deal.


The CR makes no changes to the funding for various programs supporting dental students, faculty, dental and craniofacial research, and other oral health programs. This means the following programs will continue to be funded at the FY 2012 levels, and face additional funding restraints due to the sequester, for the remainder of the fiscal year.


Read more in the March ADEA Washington Update.
New federal law authorizes states to incorporate dentistry into emergency response Plans

On March 13, President Obama signed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act (PAHPRA) of 2013, a law which now clarifies that dentists may be considered public health responders to disasters or other emergencies. The President's action brings to a close a two-year effort by the dental community to include dentists as emergency responders. The law also specifies that dental schools are eligible to receive federal funds to train public health and medical response workers.


Although dentists can now be classified as public health responders, the new law does not mandate participation but allows states to incorporate dentists and dental facilities into emergency planning. Further, the reauthorized legislation will ensure that programs created almost 10 years ago will remain in place to help the government manage medical responses, natural disasters and other emergencies.


Source: March ADEA Washington Update.
Impact of sequestration on Title IV federal student financial aid programs

The U.S. Congress and President Obama did not reach an agreement on how to reduce the federal budget for FY 2013, therefore the sequester was automatically triggered on March 1, pursuant to the Budget Control Act of 2011. This legislation put into place an automatic process of federal budget cuts to take effect if Congress failed to enact legislation to reduce the federal deficit on a specified date by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.


Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Education ("Department") released preliminary guidance concerning the adverse impact the sequester will have on the Higher Education Act's Title IV Student Financial Aid Programs, many of which currently benefit students in predoctoral, allied and advanced dental education programs.

  • Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Where the first disbursement of the loan occurs after the sequester takes effect, the current loan fee of 1 percent of the principal amount will increase to approximately 1.05 percent.
  • Direct PLUS/Grad PLUS Loans: For both parent and graduate student borrowers where the first disbursement of the loan occurs after the sequester takes effect, the current loan fee of 4 percent will increase to approximately 4.20 percent.
  • Federal Work Study (FWS): Funding for federal work study grants are set to be cut by $49 million. This reduction would most likely reduce the number of awards as opposed to the average award amount, which may result in 33,000 fewer FWS awards. This reduction will not begin until the 2013-14 award year.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): FSEOG grants help low-income students pay for undergraduate or vocational schools and are set to be cut by $37 million, which may result in 71,000 fewer FSEOG grants. This reduction will not begin until the 2013-14 award year.

The Pell Grant Program will remain at the current level of funding for one year; however, since sequestration is a multiyear process, it does not protect Pell funding beyond the first year. Furthermore, the Department's Federal Student Aid Office will be developing the processes necessary to implement the higher loan fees and inform borrowers of the increased fee percentage so they have the opportunity to cancel or reduce their loan.


Source: March ADEA Washington Update.
Legislation introduced to create 15,000 new residency positions

On March 14, Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Aaron Schock (R-IL) reintroduced the Training Tomorrow's Doctors Today Act, bipartisan legislation to create 15,000 new Graduate Medical Education (GME) slots around the country over five years. The measure intends to increase the number of medical residency positions under Medicare in order to alleviate the looming U.S. physician shortage.


If enacted into law, this legislation would be the first increase in GME slots in nearly 15 years. The 15,000 new positions would be added over a five-year period and cost an estimated $9-10 billion over 10 years. Since the number of federally funded residencies has been frozen since 1997, the legislation would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue 3,000 new GME slots for dental and medical residents.


Source: March ADEA Washington Update.  

From the States 

Colorado dental students address Medicaid issues in state lobby day

On Feb. 15, 26 dental students from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine joined members of the Colorado Dental Association (CDA) for their annual Dentists at the Capitol Lobby Day. With the Sunset Review coming up in 2014 along with possible legislation regarding mid-level providers, the CDA wanted to make as many positive contacts with legislators as possible. The goal of the event was to lend a unified and supportive voice to the legislation proposed by Governor Hickenlooper that will extend dental benefits to all Medicaid recipients in Colorado. Currently, Medicaid in the state offers full dental coverage only to children; for adults it only covers emergency services such as extractions. This legislation will help breakdown one of the barriers to oral healthcare that face Coloradans. Additionally, the CDA is working on a five-faceted plan to help meet the needs of Colorado's dentally underserved population.


State policy updates

On Feb. 19, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D-MN) signed into law H.F. 9. The new law expands Medical Assistance eligibility to 35,000 low-income adults. According to Governor Dayton, the expansion of Medical Assistance eligibility provides $129 million in projected savings for the 2014-15 biennium. This is in addition to the $1.3 billion Minnesota is already expected to save by 2015 as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Additionally, on March 20, Governor Dayton signed H.F. 5 establishing MNsure, a new marketplace where Minnesotans can choose health insurance. According to Governor Dayton, an estimated 1.3 million Minnesotans will benefit from H.F. 5, including nearly 300,000 Minnesotans who are currently uninsured. After federal tax credits, individual consumers will see an average 34 percent decrease in premiums for insurance purchased through MNsure. The average family will save $500 annually.


New Hampshire state Senator Peggy Gilmour (D-NH) sponsored S.B. 193 which authorizes the licensure of dental therapists who may perform dental services under the supervision of a currently licensed dentist. Under the proposed bill, the permissible procedures would include the following (this list is not exhaustive): mechanical polishing; placement of temporary restorations, interim therapeutic restorations, temporary crowns, and re-cementing permanent crowns; and extractions of primary teeth and nonsurgical extractions of permanent teeth. The bill is currently pending in committee.

Read more in the March ADEA State Update.
Andrew Smith, governance and advocacy manager
ASmith@ASDAnet.org | 312-440-2795
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