Back to top

July Legislative Update

On The Go? We've Got You Covered

DTA's Legislative Representative, Patrick Cooney, brings your monthly Legislative Update to life in this ten-minute podcast. Click here to listen.

House Version of Dental Legislation

In May, Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-CA) introduced H.R.2951, Medicare Dental Benefit Act of 2019, a companion to Senator Cardin’s S.22. The bill provides for comprehensive coverage of dental services under the Medicare program. Learn more here.

DTA Letter to Trade Representative

In July, the Dental Trade Alliance sent a letter to Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, opposing U.S. tariffs on dental products and urging the immediate removal of all equipment relating to oral health from the Section 301 list. The letter focuses on how the additional tariff will diminish access to oral health products for the United States and increase costs for citizens. 

Cadillac Tax Repeal

In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.748 to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac” tax on high-cost employer health plans, scheduled to take effect in 2022. Proponents of the repeal say the tax will shift costs to workers as employers reduce health benefits and will disproportionately affect groups that typically have higher premiums, such as women, families with children, and the elderly. 

The tax was originally set to take effect in 2018 and apply to employer-sponsored health plans that cost more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. The rate is set at 40% of coverage costs that exceed those thresholds, which will be adjusted annually for inflation. It’s has been delayed several times. The bill’s repeal, if passed in the Senate, will be effective beginning in 2020.

The House Democrats pushed for repeal without a way to offset the loss to the Treasury. This begs the question will they move forward with the medical device tax repeal in the same way? The projected revenue from the “Cadillac” tax will total $193 billion through fiscal 2029, with it taking effect in 2022. That would include anticipated increases in income tax revenue as employees receive less compensation in nontaxable health benefits and more in taxable wages.

Surprise Billing

The No Surprises Act (H.R.3630) was passed on a voice vote, after review by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill protects patients from surprise bills in emergency situations, patients who didn’t specifically choose to see an out-of-network physician for scheduled care, and patients in situations where no in-network provider is available to treat them. Republicans and Democrats agree that patients should be held harmless for these “surprise bills”. The next step is for the bill to go before the full Senate.

Payment rates would be set based on in-network median rates for the area in which the service occurs, with increases allowed for inflation. But doctors and hospitals disagree with insurers and employers about how to resolve billing disputes. An amendment by Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) would allow providers to appeal the benchmark payment rate to an arbiter in some cases.