Promote and Defend our Specialty: AAO “wins” with the RAISE Act and the Medical Device Tax

“To advance our members success through education, advocacy, and research that drive excellence in patient care.”

In the last Trustee’s message I talked about the AAO’s new strategic plan and what it means for each member. I have added the new mission statement to the top of this message. It will be there in all future messages as a reminder of why we exist as an organization- for what is best for the member and the public.

Advancing success through advocacy on behalf of our members has always been considered a great member benefit. Protecting the public and supporting our members at the state and federal levels has always been one of your Association’s highest priorities. It is true now perhaps more than ever.

We are all aware of the multiple forces that are causing great concern both to the public and our profession. This summer there have been some significant “wins” on both the federal and state levels. At the federal level this July, the US House of Representatives acted on some long-time, key legislative priorities for the AAO.  First the RAISE Act which focused on increasing employee contributions to their FSA’s. This is legislation that the AAO initially spearheaded. We worked to get a coalition of other stakeholders and have been advocating for several years. This summer we saw significant progress.  On July 12, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a key element of the RAISE Health Benefits Act (H.R. 6313) — the elimination of the “use it or lose it rule”. This rule had forced employees to forfeit their flexible spending account (FSA) balance at the end of the year. This was big. Then working with our lobbyists and congressional sponsors we helped spearhead increasing the amount that employees can contribute and hold in their FSA’s. Employees would be able to contribute over 3 years and maintain up to almost $8000 in their FSA’s. This will be a huge benefit for our patients and to our practices. Then on July 25, the entire House passed the Increasing Access to Lower Premium Plans and Expanding Health Savings Accounts Act of 2018 (H.R.6311). Yay! The bill was sent to the Senate, and our dedicated AAO staff, volunteer leaders and lobbyists are continuing to advocate for passage in the Senate. I, and the rest of the AAO’s Board of Trustees, definitely recognize the positive impact this would have on orthodontic patients and the doctors who treat them – you.

Beyond strengthening FSAs, the AAO has been advocating to repeal the medical device tax.  In 2010, Congress imposed a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device manufacturers and importers.  If the tax went into effect, it would force you to choose between absorbing the costs of the tax or passing it along to your patients.  Realizing these consequences, the AAO, in coordination with a diverse coalition of stakeholders, has long advocated for medical device tax repeal.  The AAO was already successful in advocating that Congress suspend the medical device tax through calendar year 2019, which passed earlier this year.  Then, on July 24, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Protect Medical Innovation Act (H.R. 184), an AAO-endorsed bill that would permanently repeal the medical device tax.  The Protect Medical Innovation Act would make sure the medical device tax is not reinstated and be a huge victory for AAO members.  Thus, the AAO will continue to advocate for its passage in the Senate and work to have it signed into law.

So back to our strategic plan… what are the AAO’s goals and objectives? Well….

Goal 1….Promote and defend our specialty. What could be more basic and vital? This includes continued emphasis on ADVOCACY efforts.

This is one of the AAO’s absolute priorities. It is at the heart of our new strategic plan and what our members want our association to do.

So, as always, thank you for your membership and support, as the AAO is the only association solely advocating for orthodontists and orthodontic interests at both the federal and state levels.

Please feel free to connect with me at any time at or my cell 315-569-8219.

John Callahan
Trustee, Northeastern Society of Orthodontics