Testimony Before House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Reiterates
American Dental Association’s Priorities for Oral Disease Prevention Funding
Washington, D.C., May 3, 2011—“We cannot ‘drill and fill’ our way out of dental disease,” said Dr. Matthew Neary, chairman of the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Government Affairs, speaking before members of the House of Representatives today. “But we can prevent it—which is a more cost-efficient and a better way of reducing oral disease.”
Dr. Neary told lawmakers that the Indian Health Service’s Early Childhood Caries Initiative, a program designed to determine the level of disease as well as the best prevention methods, must receive adequate funding if it is to continue its valuable work. Dr. Neary asked that Congress accept the Administration’s request to increase the program’s funding by $726,000.
Testifying before the House Interior Subcommittee on Appropriations, Dr. Neary expressed the ADA's position on several other IHS issues, including:
- Adequately funding the IHS Electronic Dental Record (EDR). The EDR will provide automated patient dental records and capture dental data from patient encounters and oral examinations.
- The importance of following up on earlier congressional allocations to upgrade modular dental facilities throughout Indian country. Despite the fact that there are at least 27 dental units on a waiting list, no money has been spent to replace them for the past three years. Dr. Neary asked subcommittee members to allot $1 million toward new facilities.
- Expandingthe existing eight IHS dental clinical and preventive support centers. Staffs working at the centers in this program are trained to assist in establishing and maintaining community-based programs to prevent dental disease. The ADA recommended that the lawmakers increase the current funding by $1 million, to $3 million, and designate the funding to be used by the Director of the IHS Headquarters Division of Oral Health.
Dr. Neary summed up his testimony with a plea for Congress to adequately fund IHS dental programs. He noted that IHS was not able to reach its fiscal year 2010 goal of servicing 25 percent of the population who utilize the IHS health care system. Only through determined effort will lawmakers, IHS and tribal officials, and dentists be able to significantly reduce dental disease in Indian Country.
Congress Nixes Funding for Alternative Provider Projects in FY 2011 Budget
Congress today finally passed a budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, explicitly prohibiting funding for the alternative dental health care provider demonstration projects authorized in the new health care reform law (P.L. 111-148). The American Dental Association has consistently opposed funding these demonstration projects, which could support programs allowing midlevel providers to perform surgical/irreversible procedures.
The budget bill that passed the House and Senate today is in the form of a long-term continuing resolution to fund the federal government until Sept. 30.
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Please write your Senators, asking that they quickly pass H.R. 4626, the Health Insurance Fair Competition Act, a bill that would eliminate the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption granted to the insurance industry nearly 65 years ago.
Repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson antitrust exemption for the “business of insurance” would increase opportunities for challenging collective action by insurance companies. Dentists, their patients, and the public at large are all victims of McCarran-Ferguson’s negative impact on competition and all would benefit from its repeal. When insurance companies are permitted to work jointly, consumers are less likely to see as much innovation and variety in the marketplace as they would in an atmosphere of robust competition for their business.
The ADA’s best chance at getting the bill signed into law is now – before Congress adjourns next month. The legislation passed the House 406-19. The Senate has not taken action.
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