Lobby days, such as Day on the Hill, are a critical component of an association’s overall advocacy efforts. Thousands of advocacy groups fly into Washington, D.C., every year to lobby on behalf of their cause or livelihood. Each group is there to compel legislators to support its priority issues, which may conflict with the issues important to OMSs.
Day on the Hill has played a role in the following recent advocacy outcomes:
- Coverage of medically necessary OMS care for Medicare patients with acute medical conditions, in lieu of comprehensive dentistry in Part B. In 2021, Congress strongly considered legislation to significantly expand Medicare Part B dental benefits. The 2021 Day on the Hill attendees advocated virtually for Congress to focus instead on addressing medically necessary dental procedures central to the success of Medicare-approved treatment for acute medical conditions. As a result of these and other coalition advocacy efforts, legislation to significantly expand Part B benefits did not advance. Meanwhile, CMS expanded coverage for certain medically necessary dental procedures for acute medical conditions as part of the 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule, which AAOMS supported.
- Improved facility payment for dental surgeries in the outpatient hospital setting. Coding limitations prevent hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) from being adequately reimbursed for dental procedures that take place in their facilities. As a result, hospitals and ASCs allot minimal time for dental cases, and patients might wait months to receive care for conditions that could become life-threatening if not treated in a timely manner. The 2022 Day on the Hill attendees asked Congress to urge CMS to act swiftly to address the issue. As a result of these and other coalition advocacy efforts, CMS responded by creating a HCPCS code, which resulted in a significant increase in the facility fees in the outpatient hospital setting. CMS also recently proposed the code be extended to ASCs in 2024. AAOMS continues to collaborate with the coalition to support Medicaid adoption of the facility code.
- Introduction of AAOMS-initiated legislation, the Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act, in both the House and Senate. The REDI Act would allow physicians and dentists to defer their student loans interest-free during residency, saving them tens of thousands of dollars in interest. The REDI Act does not provide loan forgiveness or reduce a borrower's original loan balance. AAOMS originally worked with Congressman and dentist Brian Babin (R-Texas) to introduce the legislation in 2018, and it has been a Day on the Hill priority issue since. U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) introduced the bill in the Senate for the first time in March 2022. The REDI Act was reintroduced in both the House and Senate in the 118th Congress in early 2023. AAOMS is leading a coalition of more than 40 organizations representing physicians and dentists to advocate for passage.
- House passage in April 2022 of the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA). ELSA would require health insurers to cover treatment – including dental – for patients with congenital craniofacial anomalies. AAOMS worked with a coalition of patient and provider groups to introduce ELSA in 2018, and Day on the Hill attendees have been advocating in support of the bill since. The coalition is currently working with bill sponsors to address concerns recently raised by some members of Congress to help ensure passage in the 118th Congress. The bill is expected to be reintroduced in fall 2023.