ODA advocacy in 2019

At the end of the year I think it is important to recap what has taken place over the past 12 months and ensure that moving into the new year we are ready to take on our advocacy tasks with a clear plan. The main topics of interest over the past year have been the non-covered services legislation, the rule making process for teledentistry and continuing education, in-office dental plan legislation, education of new legislators on issues in dentistry and ensuring that our advocacy model continues to provide results.

Starting with something that has been discussed in the last few issues of the “ODA Today,” we are working hard on Senate Bill 148, our non-covered services legislation. If signed into law this bill would allow dentists to opt out of non-covered service prices set by insurers. Senate Bill 148 has had three hearings in the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee. Through the sponsor, proponent and opponent testimony the committee was very engaged and asking questions. The ODA advocacy team is currently following up with all members of the committee to see where they stand as we try to get a vote on the bill in committee. This continues to be the ODA’s lead legislative item for this general assembly. Continue to follow along with this issue; this will be something that we actively discuss this spring at Day at the Statehouse.

Since the passage of the teledentistry bill last December, the Ohio State Dental Board has been working on the rules that the statute requires them to develop for teledentistry. The ODA has been at the table throughout the conversations over these rules and we are hopeful that they will be put in place early in 2020. Also, at the Board the ODA has been very involved in the rule for mandatory CE on opioid prescribing. The rule that requires two hours of CE for each of the next two bienniums has been passed and will go into effect January 1, 2020. Even though the rule passed in this biennium (2018-2019) the mandatory CE will not go into effect until the 2020-2021 biennium. Look for new online continuing education that will fulfill this mandatory requirement from the ODA as a member benefit in January.

One of the big victories for dentistry in 2019 was found in the biennial state budget. First, the budget bill was free of any negatives for the dental profession. Where some of our colleagues in other areas of medicine were attacked with scope of practice issues and insurance questions, the dental profession came out of the largest policy bill unchanged and unaffected. The one very big positive that came out of the budget bill this summer was the legislation regarding in-office dental plans. R.C. 3901.95 states that so long as the direct primary care agreement meets certain requirements, it shall not be considered insurance. This ensures that members who want to have in-office membership plans have a strategy to ensure that they are not running afoul of the department of insurance.

Finally, I would like to quickly discuss the changes in the Statehouse over the last year and how the ODA is keeping members of the legislature informed. In 2020 we enter another election year. As I have discussed with many of you, term limits in Ohio make for new members of the legislature every election cycle. Last year when the 133rd Ohio General Assembly started there were more than 40 members who were new to the House or the Senate. Out of the 132 legislators in Ohio more than 40 had never heard of the issues facing dentistry. Therefore, it was very important to make contact with each of those people to ensure they understood where the ODA stood on issues and what was important to dentistry. One very important issue to discuss was dental therapists. In over 40 meetings with new legislators we discussed the harm that could come from dental therapist legislation. I am happy to report that so far in the 133rd general assembly there has not been a dental therapy bill introduced. This is something we must continue to educate the legislature on and a discussion that will continue in the future.

For 2020 it is again very important to continue our advocacy efforts on all fronts. The advocacy efforts for the ODA come from a three-prong approach and it is vital that we continue to use all three to improve dentistry in Ohio. Those prongs are grassroots advocacy, a professional lobbying team, and a strong political action committee. For the first prong I encourage all members to make an effort to reach out to their legislators. Legislators respond well to constituents, and they understand you are in their district. An easy way to make that connection is to attend ODA Day at the Statehouse in the spring. Second, the professional lobby team at the ODA will continue to meet with legislators and bring the ODA’s message to the Statehouse. Lastly, I encourage all of you to give to the Ohio Dental Political Action Committee (ODPAC). Contributions allow the committee to support candidates that support our ideas. The past year the ODPAC contributions were down a little and I hope they will rebound in the next year with the election. In an election year every contribution is vital and will be put to good use to support strong candidates. You can contribute to ODPAC on your dues statement, or visit www.oda.org to make a contribution.

Please take the time to look through the list below of dental leaders who believe in the Ohio Dental Political Action Committee and donated at the Capital Club level or higher in 2019. It is contributions like these that ensure the strength of the dental profession in Ohio.