Senators reintroduce bipartisan legislation that would prohibit noncovered services provisions in dental, vision plans

ADA thanks federal legislators for their support

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., reintroduced legislation May 3 that would give patients and doctors more control over their health care decisions and increase access to dental and vision care.

In a May 5 letter, the ADA thanked the lawmakers for sponsoring S. 1424, which would prohibit “noncovered services” provisions in dental and vision plans as part of the bipartisan Dental and Optometric Care Access Act.

“It is unreasonable for dental plans to set fees for services in which the plans have no financial liability, and that is why 45 states have enacted laws that limit interference with the doctor-patient relationship when the doctor delivers services insurers do not cover,” wrote George R. Shepley, D.D.S., ADA president, and Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., executive director. “However, a federal effort is needed as many dental plans are regulated on the federal rather than state level.”

The DOC Access Act complements existing state laws and would apply to federally regulated dental and vision plans, which comprise nearly half of dental and vision coverage in a majority of states.

“Every West Virginian and American deserves access to quality, affordable healthcare, including dental and vision care,” said Sen. Manchin. “Our bipartisan DOC Access Act would help put health care choices in the hands of patients and doctors themselves, instead of insurance companies. This legislation would provide more options and expand access to patient care, while also allowing for more flexibility in treatment options for doctors, especially those operating their own practices as small businesses. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bipartisan, commonsense legislation to give patients and doctors greater control over their healthcare decisions.”

“Our doctors need more autonomy within our health care system, whether it’s selecting the best materials and lab services for their patient, or by increasing fairness in doctor-insurer agreements,” said Sen. Cramer. “Our bipartisan legislation looks to protect consumers and allow doctors to provide high-quality care to their patients.”

“Consumers deserve this bipartisan legislation to prohibit dental insurance companies from interfering in the doctor-patient relationship by dictating prices for services they don’t cover,” said Dr. Shepley. “It is crucial to balance the scales and bring equity to insurer-provider contracting at the federal level. The American Dental Association, on behalf of our 159,000 member dentists and our patients, commends Senators Manchin and Cramer for introducing the Dental and Optometric Care Access Act of 2023.”

S. 1424 joins its House companion, H.R. 1385, which was introduced in the House of Representatives in March.

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