The AAOPAC continues to host virtual events with members of Congress to provide an opportunity for AAO members to have personal, virtual meetings with members of Congress to keep them abreast of the views of the orthodontic specialty. Over the past 25 years, the AAOPAC has supported congressional candidates who support the orthodontic profession, whether it is easing the burden of student debt or supporting small businesses.
AAO members and staff have represented the AAOPAC in over 30 virtual meetings over the past month, including meeting with three of the dentists serving in Congress- Representatives Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Mike Simpson (R-ID). The Congressmen gave participants an update on election prospects and what to expect to happen in the coming months. The AAO discussed its legislative priorities with the Congressmen, specifically ensuring the availability of PPE for orthodontists, the impact of the Paycheck Protection and the Provider Relief Fund, increases HSA limits, and student loan reform.
Other notable meetings were with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Representative Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), and Representative Yvette Clark (D-NY).
Senator Ernst is the lead Republican sponsor in the Senate for the Ensuring Last Smiles Act, a bipartisan bill that would ensure that all health plans cover medically necessary services, including orthodontic procedures, as a result of congenital anomalies or birth defects.
Representative Vicente Gonzalez is the original sponsor of the RAISE Health Benefits Act, which has been an AAO priority over the last few years. Current law restricts the utility of FSAs by placing an unnecessary and artificial cap of $2,750 on annual employer contributions. The current cap does not take into account the diversity of family size, and unfairly provides larger families less savings per person than smaller families, who often have to choose which child might be able to benefit “more” from orthodontic treatment.
Congresswoman Yvette Clark is the lead sponsor of the Dental Loan Repayment Assistance Act. Given the large debt load required for orthodontic students, it is a significant challenge to recruit and retain qualified individuals to fill faculty positions in the field. The Dental Loan Repayment Assistance Act would exclude certain federal loan repayments made to dental faculty from being included as gross income and prevent a potentially hefty tax bill on those federal loan repayments defined in the Public Health Service Act.
The AAO looks forward to continuing to work with these legislators in the upcoming Congress to continue advocating for issues of importance to our members. Federal advocacy is made possible thanks to the generosity and support from members who contribute to the AAO Political Action Committee (AAOPAC). To contribute to the AAOPAC, you can click here. If you are interested in participating in a future AAOPAC virtual meeting opportunity, please contact AAOPAC Treasurer, Gianna Hartwig, at email@example.com.