Pennsylvania Dental Journal March April 2017 - Page 9

G ove r n men t Re lat ions PDA is the premier dental organization at the forefront of legislative initiatives to improve the dental practice environment in Pennsylvania for both dentists and patients. We contract with a top notch lobbying firm, The Winter Group, to advocate for dentistry at the state Capitol and with the Governor’s Administration. The legislative session, which commenced in January 2017, allows PDA two years to advocate on members’ behalf for the following important insurance reforms, and scope of practice and access to care initiatives: • Assignment of benefits • Health practitioner student loan forgiveness and tangential loan mitigation issues. Through the years, PDA has used dentists’ collective voice in the legislative area to accomplish great things: g PASSED legislation limiting the timeframe in which insurers may retroactively review and deny dental claims to 24 months. g PASSED legislation prohibiting insurers from capping fees for dental services which are not covered in a patient’s plan. g PASSED legislation requiring insurers to cover the cost of general anesthesia when needed to treat patients of any age with special needs or children seven years of age or younger. • Increased funding in the Medical Assistance program for dental providers and a restoration of adult benefits. g PASSED legislation allowing out-of-state dentists to apply for temporary licenses so that they may volunteer at charitable events or assist during states of emergency. While PDA takes a focused approach in limiting its primary advocacy efforts to those three issues, we will monitor and address the following additional issues on an as-needed basis: g REINSTATED funding in the state budget for Dental Lifeline Network’s Donated Dental Services program. • Maintaining funding for the Donated Dental Services program. • Prescription drug prescribing authority, abuse and patient monitoring. • Protecting the current dental team model and patients’ safety by limiting or restricting the unsupervised practice of non-dentists. • All other workforce and scope of practice issues. • Supporting programs and policies aimed at improving oral health. • Representing dentistry’s interests on issues pertaining to the Affordable Care Act. • All insurance issues, such as balance billing, coordination of benefits and credentialing. Already in 2017, PDA hit the ground running with our legislative priorities, with a new assignment of benefits bill (SB 373) having been introduced in mid-February and a new bill expected to be introduced this year to provide more dental student loan forgiveness funding. We are also hard at work at securing appropriations in the state budget for dental initiatives such as Dental Lifeline Network’s Donated Dental Services program. g SECURED additional funding in the state’s health care practitioner loan forgiveness program for dentists who agree to practice in shortage areas in exchange for student loan forgiveness. g PASSED legislation that expands the scope of practice for expanded function dental assistants to include some hygiene functions performed under dentists’ direct supervision. g AMENDED legislation requiring dentists to carry malpractice insurance by including an exemption for dentists with volunteer licenses and those who practice in community based settings. g DEFEATED legislation that would have required dentists to submit proof of having paid taxes before renewing their dental license, threatening their livelihood if the state made mistakes processing this information. g REMOVED provisions in a city ordinance that required dentists to install amalgam separators and display a poster in their offices needlessly alarming patients about the dangers of “mercury amalgam.” g DEFEATED legislation allowing municipalities to remove fluoride from water supplies without prior notification to the public or Department of Environmental Protection. MARCH / AP RIL 2017 | P EN N SYLVAN IA DEN TAL JOURNAL 7