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Advocacy in Washington

wash1Dental Trade Alliance (DTA) monitors legislation and addresses pressing issues on Capitol Hill that affect the dental trade.  DTA member companies are actively involved in meeting with members of Congress in their own districts and visiting Washington DC once a year at the DTA Washington Conference to speak with their representatives on Capitol Hill.

Current Issues:

Physicians Payment Sunshine Act (PPSA)

The Physicians Payment Sunshine Act (PPSA), a provision of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, requires medical device manufacturers to report payments or transfers of value to dentists that exceed $10.  While dentists are covered under the definition of a physician, only about 25 percent of dentists participate in CMS programs.  According to CMS, in its National Health Expenditures report, total expenditures for dental services in Medicare and Medicaid programs covered by this provision totaled $7.98 billion in 2013. That amounts to less than one percent of total expenditures for these programs. Equipment and supply costs in dental practices (which translate into the dental industry share) amount to less than 8 percent of the total practice income according to the American Dental Association. In general, we believe that the burden of reporting costs for dental manufacturers far exceeds any intended benefit of transparency in relationships with providers.  Position: DTA urges Congress to consider exempting small volume health professionals, including dentists, from coverage under the Sunshine Act to reduce unnecessary burden.

Action for Dental Health Act (H.R. 2422)

H.R. 2422 was introduced on May 15, 2017, and reauthorizes the oral health promotion and disease prevention activities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), expanding initiatives to enhance oral health education and community-wide dental disease prevention. The bill also reauthorizes the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Grants to States to Support Oral Health Workforce Activities, increasing access to dental care in underserved communities. Many oral conditions, such as tooth decay and gum disease, can be avoided by straightforward preventive measures, such as regular cleaning and water fluoridation. Yet good oral health remains an unmet medical need for many Americans. According to the CDC, on average, the nation spends more than $113 billion a year on costs related to dental care. Targeting resources to facilitate the provision of dental services to those in need, in addition to improving oral health education will help prevent dental diseases before they start. This will ultimately reduce medical complications, emergency room visits, and poor dental health outcomes in underserved communities. Position: DTA urges the Senate to take up the Action for Dental Health Act (H.R.2422), sponsored by Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL).

Legislative Victories:

Medical Device Excise Tax Repealed:  The Medical Device Excise Tax was repealed at the end of 2019 after a second two-year suspension.

Research and Experimentation Credit Made Permanent:  For taxable years beginning after 2015, the credit is modified to allow an eligible small business (as defined in section 38(c)(5)(C)) to claim the credit against both its regular tax and alternative minimum tax (AMT) liabilities. Beginning in 2016, certain small businesses also may claim the credit against the employer portion of their payroll tax liability, rather than against their income tax liability.

Increased Expensing Limits Under Section 179 Made Permanent:  The increased expensing limit and phase-out threshold under section 179, $500,000 and $2 million, are now permanent. Those amounts had fallen to $25,000 and $200,000, respectively. Additionally, the extension bill permanently allows taxpayers to expense off-the-shelf computer software and qualified real property (i.e., qualified leasehold improvement property, qualified restaurant property, and qualified retail improvement property) under section 179, provisions that also lapsed at the end of 2014.

Bonus Depreciation For Qualified Property:  The act extends bonus depreciation for qualified property placed in service over the next five years, subject to a phase-out schedule:

  • 50 percent bonus depreciation in 2015, 2016, and 2017
  • 40 percent in 2018
  • 30 percent in 2019

After 2015, the bill allows bonus depreciation to be claimed on qualified improvement property regardless of whether the property is subject to a lease, and removes the requirement that improvement is placed in service more than three years after the building was placed in service.