The Issues
Dentistry and the Affordable Care Act

"The YouToons Get Ready for Obamacare," The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed Oct. 21, 2013,
http://www.kff.org/health-reform/video/youtoons-obamacare-video/

President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March 23, 2010. The law is intended to lower the cost of health care and coverage for all Americans and to give more rights to help insured patients. Read about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act as described by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

ACA Provisions Consistent with ADA Policies:

  • Increased funding for public health infrastructure, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, oral health programs and national oral health surveillance programs
  • Additional funding for school-based health center facilities
  • Increased grant opportunities for general, pediatric or public health dentists
  • Funding for National Health Service Corps loan repayment programs
  • CDC initiation, in consultation with professional oral health organizations, of a five-year national public education campaign focused on oral health prevention and education

ACA Effects on Dentists

ACA will impact all health practitioners, including dentists. The ADA has released resources that catalogue how ACA will affect dentistry: Effects of ACA on Dentistry (pdf).

ADA is also offering a series of Q-and-A sessions on ACA and its potential effect on dentistry.

The ADA Health Policy Research Center (HPRC) published three research briefs describing how the Affordable Care Act will affect dental benefits:

Students in the clinic  

According to the ADA:

  • About 3 million children are expected to gain some form of dental benefits by 2018 as a result of ACA. Roughly one-third will gain Medicaid dental coverage and two-thirds will gain private dental coverage through health insurance exchanges and employer-sponsored plans. Combined, this will reduce the number of children who lack dental benefits by approximately 55 percent.
  • Nearly 18 million adults will gain some level of dental benefits from the Affordable Care Act, but only 4.5 million of these adults are expected to gain extensive dental benefits through Medicaid. An additional 800,000 are expected to gain private dental benefits through health insurance exchanges. Combined, about 5 percent fewer adults will be without dental benefits. These increases will put pressure on the Medicaid system by generating an additional 10.4 million dental visits each year through Medicaid by 2018.
  • Accountable care organizations could help bridge the gap between oral and general health care, improve coordination of dental care and help reduce overall health care costs. Dental care is not generally included as a core component within today's ACOs, but this is largely due to the current focus on Medicare populations.
  • There is strong evidence that reforming Medicaid and increasing reimbursement rates to market levels would increase access to dental care. The Affordable Care Act does not do enough to address or solve administrative inefficiencies or low dental provider reimbursement levels seen at the state level.

What has ASDA done?

ASDA recognizes that as future dentists, ACA will have a significant impact on its members. At National Dental Student Lobby Day in April 2013, ASDA members advocated against the ACA-implemented 2.3% medical and dental device tax on materials such as supplies, instruments and equipment. This excise tax also applies to devices manufactured by dental laboratories and orthodontic manufacturers. ASDA believes this tax to be a burdensome cost to the dentist or dental clinic that will likely be passed onto the patient or result in higher dental school tuition.

Other Resources

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