L. Jeffrey Lowenstein, DMD
AAOPAC, NESO Representative

The AAO’s 2019 legislative priorities have focused on easing the burden of student loan debt, keep borrowing affordable, strengthen repayment options, and preserve access to federal loans and grants for graduate and all professional students. With respect to orthodontic practice concerns, the legislative agenda included improving healthcare policy, strengthen and expanding consumer-directed healthcare options by passing the RAISE Act, repealing the Medical Device Tax, expanding health coverage options for small businesses, improving access to high-quality dental care, adopting reforms for small businesses, and supporting growth of small businesses through tax policy.

The 2019 AAO Advocacy Conference was held February 26-27 in Washington, DC. 118 AAO members attended (46 of which were orthodontic program residents) who represented all eight constituencies and reacted very positively to the overall advocacy conference experience. Please note that the 2020 AAO Advocacy Conference will be held February 25-26, 2020 in Washington, DC. If any orthodontist or orthodontic resident would like to participate please contact me at

Act Updates:

RAISE Health Benefits Act (S.503/H.R.1366) was reintroduced –

This bill modifies the tax exclusion for distributions from health flexible spending arrangements provided to employees under a cafeteria plan to (1) increase the annual limit on employee salary reduction contributions to $5,000, with an additional $500 for each additional employee dependent above two dependents that has not been taken into account by another person for the year; (2) revise the adjustment for inflation after 2019; and (3) allow a carryforward into the next year for unused amounts in such plans.

02/14/2019  Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.
  Action By: Senate
02/26/2019  Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.
  Action By: House of Representatives
02/26/2019  Introduced in House.
  Action By: House of Representatives

Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (H.R. 1379/S.560) was introduced. This legislation would require all group health plans to cover medically necessary dental, orthodontic, and prosthodontic care related to the diagnosis or treatment of a congenital anomaly or birth defect.

A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to require that group and individual health insurance coverage and group health plans provide coverage for treatment of a congenital anomaly or birth defect.

02/26/2019   Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
  Action By: Senate
02/27/2019   Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.
  Action By: Committee on Energy and Commerce
02/26/2019   Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.
  Action By: Committee on Ways and Means
02/26/2019   Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, and Education and Labor, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
  Action By: House of Representatives

Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act (H.R. 1418/S.350) was reintroduced. This bill declares that nothing in the McCarran-Ferguson Act modifies, impairs, or supersedes the operation of antitrust laws with respect to the business of health insurance, including the business of dental insurance. This declaration does not apply to a contract, combination, or conspiracy to (1) collect, compile, or disseminate historical loss data; (2) determine a loss development factor for historical loss data; (3) perform actuarial services if the collaboration does not involve a restraint of trade; or (4) develop or disseminate a standard insurance policy form if adherence to the form is not required. Prohibitions against unfair methods of competition apply to the business of health insurance without regard to whether the business is for profit.

04/08/2019  Referred to the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law.
  Action By: Committee on the Judiciary
02/28/2019  Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
  Action By: House of Representatives
02/06/2019  Introduced in House.

Student Loan Recalculation and Refinancing Act (H.R. 1899) was reintroduced.

Sponsor:  Sen. Braun, Mike [R-IN] (Introduced 06/03/2019)
Committees:  Senate – Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Latest Action:  Senate – 06/03/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Resident Education Deferred Interest Act (REDI Act) (H.R. 1554) was reintroduced. This legislation would provide for interest-free deferment on student loans for borrowers serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program.

03/06/2019  Referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.
  Action By: House of Representatives

Please remember, when you contact your representative in the US House of Representatives and/or your US Senator to advocate for a specific bill before congress, please identify the bill by its number. You may email, call or visit with your representative or a staff member anytime and anywhere. Many representatives hold local events where citizens can approach them and discuss specific bills and concerns. It is best to always follow-up with an email or call. Advocacy is best accomplished in large numbers, so please participate. All the legislative priorities of the AAO will not only benefit orthodontists and orthodontic residents, but also patients and the entire dental profession. The time is now to advocate for our profession!