Legislative updates from the American Student Dental Association

July 2013

Use ASDA Engage to protect student loan interest rates

ASDA launched the Engage advocacy and engagement platform in June. Go to ASDAnet.org/Engage to take action to protect student loan interest rates. Tell Congress and the White House to oppose doubling subsidized Stafford Loans and to develop comprehensive reforms to make graduate loan rates affordable.  

 

From Washington, D.C.  

Congress allows Stafford Loan interest rate to double 
Congress recessed last week without taking action on the Stafford interest rate issue. Due to Congress' inaction, the interest rate on subsidized federal Stafford loans for undergraduate students doubled on Monday, July 1, increasing from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. In May, the House passed a measure that would tie student loan rates to the yield on 10-year Treasury notes. Senate members have attributed their indecision on this matter to the instability of binding student loan rates to the 10-year Treasury note, as this yield has fluctuated as much as 2.5 percent in the last five years.

When gaveled back into session next week, the Senate will consider S. 1238, a measure that will extend the 3.4 percent rate for another year. ASDA will continue to monitor this issue and work with others in organized dentistry to protect affordable student loan interest rates.

From the States 

Colorado expands Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, passes oral health legislation

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed S.B. 200 into law in May. The new law expands Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. According to Governor Hickenlooper, the new law will allow an additional 160,000 adults to obtain services under Medicaid.

 

S.B. 242, also signed by Governor Hickenlooper, establishes limited oral health benefits for adults in the Medicaid program. A collaborative stakeholder group will be established under the law to consider the components of the adult dental benefit. Additionally, the law creates the Adult Dental Fund, consisting of monies from the Unclaimed Property Trust Fund and any additional appropriated funds.

 

S.B. 261 establishes the Colorado Oral Health Community Grants Program to support community water fluoridation efforts, school dental sealant programs and other oral health evidence-based programs. The governor has additionally signed S.B. 261.  

Arkansas moves forward with alternative Medicaid model

Governor Mike Beebe signed into law the Arkansas Private Option Bills (S.B. 1020 and H.B. 1143) that will provide health insurance for 250,000 Arkansans. The new law allows Arkansas to accept federal Medicaid funds and use those funds to pay for private insurance for "low-risk" adults newly eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansion provisions. The new law defines eligible adults as adults who: (1) are between ages 19 and 65, with an income that is equal to or less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level; (2) have been authenticated to be a U.S. citizen or a documented qualified alien; and (3) are not determined to be more effectively covered through the standard Medicaid program, such as an individual who is medically frail or other individuals with exceptional medical needs for whom coverage through the health insurance marketplace is determined to be impractical, overly complex, or would undermine continuity or effectiveness.

 

Although Governor Beebe has signed the two bills into law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must still approve the state's alternative Medicaid expansion plan.

 

In response to growing state interest in providing private health insurance to those persons eligible to receive services under the ACA Medicaid expansion provisions, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), within HHS, released a memorandum on March 29, defining and explaining the limitations on using premium assistance for private coverage in Medicaid.

 

Although the memorandum notes that some states have expressed interest in section 1115 demonstrations to provide premium assistance for the purchase of qualified health plans in the exchanges, and that HHS will consider approving those demonstration projects, Arkansas' model has not been formally approved by HHS.

Iowa Supreme Court rejects dental fee capping

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Iowa Dental Association in the case of Iowa

Dental Association v. Iowa Insurance Division and Iowa Insurance Commissioner, reversing the decision of the Iowa District Court for Polk County.

 

The Court was asked to decide whether to uphold the Iowa Insurance Commissioner's interpretation of a law governing dental insurance plans. H.F. 2229, passed by the Iowa Legislature in 2010, provides in part that a contract between a dental plan and a dentist for the provision of services to covered individuals under the plan shall not require that a dentist provide services to those covered individuals at a fee set by the dental plan, unless such services are covered under the dental plan.

 

Under the Iowa Insurance Commissioner's interpretation of the law, an insurer may limit the maximum fees charged by dentists for services that are generally included in the insurer's dental plan, even though they are not actually reimbursed by the insurer because of a plan restriction.

 

The Court concluded that the services in question do not meet the statutory definition of "covered services" because they have not been "reimbursed under the dental plan." Accordingly, the fee for them may not be "set by the dental plan."

 

During the 2012 and 2013 legislative sessions, more than 10 states introduced legislation regarding non-covered dental services, including Nevada, which enacted its noncovered services law on May 29.

 

Source: June ADEA State Update

State & Local Policy Updates  

 

 

The California Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee voted 14-0 to restore dental benefits for 3 million adult Medi-Cal recipients ($131 million in general revenue). However, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) did not restore Medi-Cal adult dental benefits in his initial 2013-2014 proposed budget. These benefits had been eliminated as an optional Medi-Cal benefit in 2009, due to the state's fiscal crisis. On June 11 a budget agreement was reached between the governor and the leadership in the legislature to provide adult dental benefits under Medi-Cal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Jersey Assembly Bill 3223, was reported favorably out of the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee on May 6 by a vote of 5-2. The bill, titled the Neighborhood Scholar Revitalization Pilot Program," would establish a pilot program to encourage recent college graduates to relocate into declining neighborhoods of older cities for at least two years. The pilot program would allow 200 qualified individuals to participate in each pilot municipality. In order to qualify, an individual would have to graduate from a two- or four-year institution of higher education, have outstanding student loan indebtedness of at least $7,000, and agree to live in a targeted residential neighborhood for at least 24 months. At the end of the required residency period, the program entitles each qualified participant to receive a $7,000 student loan reimbursement payment. A similar bill, S2848, has also been introduced for consideration.

 

Source: June ADEA State Update

 

 

 

On June 30, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee approved the 2013-15 operating budget. This new budget restores funding for the adult dental Medicaid benefit effective January 1, 2014, which will coincide with the Medicaid expansion for low income adults. The approval of the $33.6 billion budget averted a potential government shutdown.  

Contact:
Andrew Smith, governance and advocacy manager
ASmith@ASDAnet.org | 312-440-2795
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