Washington — The Association celebrated a wide range of advocacy wins in 2022 , from effectively lobbying for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to improve access to dental surgeries in hospital operating rooms to supporting a successful ballot measure in Massachusetts that establishes a medical loss ratio in dentistry.
Here is a sampling of the ADA’s 2022 wins:
MOBILE Health Care Act becomes law. The Maximizing Outcomes through Better Investments in Lifesaving Equipment for Health Care Act, or MOBILE Health Care Act, became law on Oct. 17. The new law expands the use of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s New Access Points grant program for community health centers and allows health centers to use this grant program to set up a mobile unit regardless of whether the health center also sets up a permanent health care site.
Massachusetts overwhelmingly passes MLR ballot measure. Early in 2022, ADA staff and the Massachusetts Dental Society began working together on a campaign to support a ballot measure, which would establish that 83% of insurance premiums collected by dental plans must go to patient care. Furthermore, if that 83% threshold is not met, dental insurers must rebate the difference. Dentists from around the country supported the effort, which 72% of Massachusetts voters approved, and the ADA contributed $5.5 million to the campaign.
Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act passes the House of Representatives. The ADA advocated for the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act, or ELSA, which would require that all private group and individual health plans cover medically necessary services resulting from a congenital anomaly or birth defect. The services covered under ELSA would include inpatient and outpatient care and reconstructive services and procedures, as well as adjunctive dental, orthodontic, or prosthodontic support. In April, ELSA passed the House of Representatives with 310 bipartisan votes.
Oral health prioritized in spending bill. The accomplishments also included the fiscal year 2023 omnibus bill, which was signed into law by the president in December 2022. The bill included an increase of 3.5% for oral health across the board with significant increases in dental research and Indian dental health.
CMS establishes new billing code for dental surgeries in hospitals. After an advocacy campaign spearheaded by the ADA, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the disability community, CMS agreed to establish a new dental billing and payment arrangement to improve access for hospital dental operating room cases requiring care under general anesthesia.
CMS expands postpartum coverage. After lobbying by the ADA, CMS announced in September that people in all states who are enrolled in Medicaid will have dental coverage for 60 days postpartum.
Congress improves military dental oral health care. Following a survey of dentists, the ADA, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and military and veterans service organizations asked Congress to address problems with the TRICARE Dental Program. In the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress included provisions requiring TRICARE functions such as enrollment, eligibility, and premium payment processing to be handled by a third-party administrator, and ensuring beneficiaries have three dental insurance enrollment options from several carriers. These improvements are intended to address the problems the ADA identified with TRICARE provider network adequacy, delayed payments, and lack of access.
Vaccination. In October, dentists were given the nationwide authority under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to administer monkeypox (now known as mpox) vaccines.
HRSA appoints chief dental officer. The ADA advocated for Health Resources and Services Administration to install a chief dental officer and in May, the agency complied. The position oversees a range of programs that treat the underserved and train dentists.
States prioritize dental insurance reform. Last year, 22 state dental societies received ADA state public affairs funding to engage in state dental insurance issues. All told, there were 14 new laws in eight states enacted last year to improve the position of dentists and/or patients with regard to dental insurance.
ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day. The 2022 event — the first in-person ADA national advocacy event in three years — educated 400 dentists and students on advocacy and legislative issues and included more than 300 meetings with members of Congress.
Oral health literacy win. Successfully advocated for a Maryland bill that established the University of Maryland Center for Health Literacy as the state’s consumer health information hub.
CDHC outreach. Assisted the Indian Health Service with integrating the ADA’s Community Dental Health Coordinator program into their continuing education distance learning platform.