This past October, I attended the ASDA National Leadership Conference. Having recently been elected the ASDA Alternate Delegate for my class, I was sincerely excited and curious about this conference. I knew I would be surrounded by others who shared my same enthusiasm about ASDA and my commitment to enhancing our dental school experience and future profession. Given my legal background, I am particularly interested in ASDA’s and the ADA’s role in legislative and legal issues regarding dental school education and the dental profession. While I thought I had a good grasp of the issues regarding the profession, at the conference, I learned so much more about the various nuances within the law that affect dentists. I was thoroughly impressed by the commitment of ASDA and ADA to advocate on our behalf. For this blog post, I wanted to highlight three areas regarding the law and dentistry that were large topics of discussion at the conference.
1) Pending U.S. Supreme Court Case about Dental Boards and Anti-Trust
Recently, the United States heard oral arguments for North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission. This case hinges upon whether the NC Board of Dental Examiners has the authority to send warning letters to non-dentists who offer dental services, such as teeth whitening. For this case, the FTC is concerned that the Board is engaging in antitrust behavior. The pivotal issue in this case is whether the Board of Dental Examiners is considered “private”, as anti-trust laws only apply to private entities. While the NC Board of Dental Examiners is considered a public entity, the FTC argues that it is comprised of dentists who primarily make their living as private dentists, and thus, they are also affected by the market that they are attempting to regulate. The ADA submitted an Amicus Curiae brief to the Supreme Court for this case. An Amicus Curiae brief is essentially an opinion of a third party that is not directly involved in the case but has a substantial interest in the outcome. The final decision should be issued sometime in 2015. You can view the ADA’s brief here.
2) Student Loans
The accumulation of significant student loans is a large source of stress for dental students. While the rising costs of tuition are often unavoidable, ASDA and the ADA are advocating for students and recent graduates from a tax standpoint. Currently, most dentists’ incomes are too high to have a student loan interest deduction on their taxes. The ADA is actively lobbying the federal legislature to completely eliminate this income cap. This way, interest on federal student loans can be considered a tax deduction, which can potentially save dentists up to thousands of dollars each year. To take action on Student Loans through ASDA’s Action Site, Engage, CLICK HERE.
3) Dental Mid-Level Providers
Unlike Colorado, other states in the country are allowing “mid-level” providers to provide some basic, yet irreversible dental procedures in order to increase access to dental care. ASDA and the ADA are very concerned about this, as it allows individuals with less than four years of dental training to perform procedures that can permanently affect a patient’s tooth. Additionally, the addition of mid-level providers dilutes the dental profession in these states, which can have a substantial impact on the quality of dental services and the salaries for dentists. ASDA seeks to ensure that only dentists provide irreversible dental procedures to patients.
These three issues are just some highlights of the myriad of issues and work that ASDA and the ADA do on our behalf. In addition to attending the legislative sessions, I attended marketing, financial, and other sessions which my colleagues have already highlighted. This conference confirmed to me that ASDA is really looking out for us. I certainly caught the “ASDA fever”!