As of March 2021,
the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is still active. However, one of its major initial clauses requiring
individuals to have healthcare, was abolished at the federal level in 2019.
What is the Affordable Care Act?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was initiated by President Barack Obama in 2010. Originally, the ACA required every US
resident to purchase a healthcare plan, and those without an insurance plan were subject to a tax penalty. Anyone
unable to afford healthcare was offered assistance by the federal government.
In 2019, President Trump reduced the tax penalty for not having health insurance to $0, so individuals without a
health insurance plan will not receive a fine in most states.
The Future of the Affordable Care Act
Since 2018, a lawsuit claiming the ACA is unconstitutional has been circulating in various courts. After the tax
penalty was reduced to $0, some legislators claimed it is unconstitutional to still require individuals maintain
The Supreme Court agreed to take the case in 2020, and oral arguments were heard in November 2020. A ruling from the
Supreme Court is expected in the spring or early summer of 2021.
Why does it matter?
Many patients are able to afford dental care because of the Affordable Care Act through Medicaid expansion.
Medicaid is the single largest source of health coverage in the United States. It is a joint program on both the
federal and state level that provides health coverage for over 72.5 million people in the US. There are certain
groups of individuals mandated by the federal government that states must cover. However, states also have the
option to cover additional groups of people. This is called expanding Medicaid coverage.
The ACA created the opportunity for states to expand Medicaid to cover children, nearly all low-income US citizens
under age 65, and adults with income at or below 133% of the federal poverty line.
The ACA included features specifically affecting oral health:
- Required every state’s Medicaid to include pediatric coverage
- Required health care exchanges to offer pediatric dental benefits
- Expanded dependent coverage has been shown to improve affordability of dental care for young adults.
E-12 policy encourages all U.S. CODA-accredited dental schools to accept Medicaid at
their respective clinics.
supports providing dental services to all patients, regardless of reimbursement method.
What has ASDA done?
- On March 28, 2019, more than 400 ASDA members lobbied for specific principles to be included in health care
reform legislation. Attendees encouraged lawmakers to preserve certain Medicaid benefits that would
assure oral health services for children and allow states to preserve adult dental benefits under Medicaid if
- On April 17, 2020, ASDA, along with over 50 other dental organizations signed on to a letter requesting
that the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provide
immediate access to capital by releasing funding from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to dentists that are