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By Patrick Cooney, The Federal Group, Inc.
Legislative Representative, Dental Trade Alliance

The Dental Trade Alliance annual meeting in Arizona is going to be a special event. One highlight will be the attendance of Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) who represents Arizona’s 4th Congressional District. He will speak briefly to the attendees the day after the elections and will be able to give an update about how he sees the new administration and the new 115th Congress working together in 2017. Rep. Gosar is a member of the Freedom Caucus in Congress and one of the more conservative members of the House of Representatives.

On healthcare, Rep. Gosar wants the 2010 Affordable Care Act repealed and replaced with what he calls, “free-market, patient-centered” alternative as well as legislation to address the threat of medical malpractice lawsuits. He believes that everybody’s healthcare needs are different and only competition in the market will lead to quality care. Rep. Gosar earned a bachelor’s from Creighton University and dental degree from Creighton’s Boyne School of Dentistry in 1985. He owned his dental practice in Flagstaff for 25 years. He was named Arizona dentist of the year in 2001.

By Patrick Cooney, The Federal Group, Inc.
Legislative Representative, Dental Trade Alliance

The House of Representatives and Senate were busy since early September after the long summer break. Since returning, they had been laboring to finish must-pass funding legislation for the federal government to operate and other key pieces of legislation. However, many are surprised that the Republican-led House and Senate were still in session so late into September with the elections not far off. Many Republicans in the House and Senate are concerned with possible election losses and were anxious to finish legislative work so they can get home and campaign.

Republicans and Democrats have been fighting over details of a stop-gap spending bill to fund the government through Dec. 9. Congress will return after the election to finish the spending bill for the rest of fiscal year 2017. Democrats have been seeking riders to the stop-gap measure that would address drinking water problems in Flint, Mich., and also funding for the Zika virus outbreak. Republicans have sought riders to stop funding of Planned Parenthood and provide emergency flood relief in Louisiana.

Last week the Congress reached agreement on the stop-gap spending bill and the House enacted legislation prior to leaving for the elections.

After discussions with exhibitors and DTA leaders, we have determined that our goals for the DTA Preview Show have been met. Therefore, beginning in 2017 the DTA will no longer host its Preview Show in Chicago prior to the Midwinter Meeting.

By Patrick Cooney, The Federal Group, Inc.
Legislative Representative, Dental Trade Alliance

Members of Congress left Washington early this year to attend July’s political conventions, turning a typically four-week summer recess into a seven-week recess. Neither the House or the Senate are scheduled to be in session until after Labor Day. Congress is expected to focus its attention when they return on passing a short-term spending patch to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1, just weeks before the elections. Despite promises from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to return the appropriations process to regular order, not even one of the 12 appropriations measures have made it to President Barack Obama’s desk. The House is scheduled to be in session only 17 days before taking off again for the month of October to campaign for the upcoming election. It is unclear what Congress will accomplish before the elections—besides the must-pass spending measure—but the following items are atop Congress’ radar:

One of the best ways you can help advocate for your industry is by sharing your business’s story with your local elected officials. Manufacturing Day, held Oct. 7, draws attention to manufacturers with its social media presence (follow the #MFG16 hashtag) and with local events in which manufacturers like you invite elected officials, students and community members to tour your facilities. It is an excellent opportunity to discuss the issues affecting the dental industry with those who can help alleviate onerous regulations.

Members of Congress as well as other local elected officials are up for reelection in November.  Now is a perfect time to reach out to these officials and candidates to make certain they are aware of your business and its footprint in the community. Legislators are looking for opportunities to meet with business leaders and to widen their net of contacts as they learn the needs of their communities. There is no need to wait until October 7th.  DTA urges you to reach out today.

Roskam2Recently, Young Innovations Inc. CEO Dave Sproat hosted Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) at the dental manufacturer’s headquarters in Algonquin, Ill. After the tour, Mr. Sproat and Rep. Roskam meet with Young Innovation’s executive management team to discuss important issues such as, the full repeal of the Medical Device Excise Tax, current and future global trade initiatives, increased regulatory oversight and subsequent costs, the Sunshine Act, and concerns about providing continuing education to dentists without the burdensome administration costs because of the Act. Rep. Roskam listened to the team’s concerns and answered questions about immigration, trade, tax repatriation and U.S. economic growth.

“The congressman was very engaged and open to learning our specific concerns and the employees were very excited to hear him speak,” Mr. Sproat said. “I would encourage other DTA members to (host an elected official at their facility) as you are better off knowing your congressman than not.”

Whether you’d like to host your elected officials on Manufacturing Day on Oct. 7 or another time during the year, DTA has the member resources to help. One of the best is our Washington Advocacy Guide, which outlines the issues affecting the dental industry and the ways representatives in Washington can help.

Click here for even more resources and information about Manufacturing Day.

By Patrick Cooney, The Federal Group, Inc.
Legislative Representative, Dental Trade Alliance

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) used his address at the American Enterprise Institute on June 22 to fully reveal the House GOP's health care reform plan. As of press time, the health reform proposal is expected to call for broadening use of health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements, selling insurance policies across state lines, capping the employer tax exclusion, keeping the guaranteed-issue mandate with exceptions, setting up high-risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions, repealing Medicare's Independent Payment Advisory Board, changing age-banding, and ending the individual mandate, among other ideas.

On June 10, members of the House energy and commerce health subcommittee held a hearing on several changes to the Affordable Care Act, including a bill that would allow issuers to charge older Americans five times more than younger people unless a state has enacted a different age rating band. Consumer advocates say increasing the age band would put coverage out of reach for older people, while those supporting the bill say it would encourage younger people to enroll and help stabilize overall pricing.

At the hearing, members also discussed legislation that would:

  • Limit the ACA's current's 90-day grace period for premium nonpayment to 30 days or defer to state law.
  • Require exchanges to verify consumers' eligibility prior to enrolling via a special enrollment period.
  • Make state exchanges return any unspent grant money to the federal government.
  • Align pediatric dental benefits for plans both inside and outside the exchanges.

The Aligning Children's Dental Coverage Act (H.R.3463) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA). This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to ease restrictions on health insurance plans without pediatric dental benefits (an essential health benefit) to allow such insurance to be offered in any state where a dental plan in the individual or small group market provides pediatric dental benefits, even in states where the dental plan is not offered on the health insurance exchange. This Act is retroactively effective as if included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.


This article was prepared by Patrick Cooney in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Dental Trade Alliance.

By September, medical device manufacturers and distributors—including dental manufacturers and distributors—are required to implement Unique Device Identification (UDI) for all class II devices that are sold in the U.S. There are very few exemptions allowed.

The UDI is a new track and trace system for devices mandated by Congress with the final rule announced by the FDA. There are a number of moving parts to this UDI tracking system. This includes a unique bar code accompanied by a human readable element (numerals or numerals and letters) for all devices. The UDI itself may be located on the packaging or on the device itself. There are two parts to each UDI. They include: the device identifier, which is a fixed element consisting of the manufacturer (or labeler) and the specifics of that device. The second part is the product identifier, which describes the lot or batch number, serial number, expiration date, etc.

Device manufacturers and distributors must select from one of several issuing agencies that provide UDI numbers and bar codes. These include HIBCC, GS1 and ICCBBA. There are fees to get UDI licenses from the issuing agencies. There are discounts for multiple device UDI licenses. In addition, companies must upload their devices with the proper UDI to the FDA managed Global Unique Device Identification Database (GUDID). Device companies can upload the UDIs themselves or pay a vendor to upload these UDIs for them.

It may be useful to discuss your UDI project with your preferred distributor or manufacturing partners. In some cases, a device package may have to be redesigned to accommodate the UDI in both the bar code and human readable formats. FDA is allowing a grace period of 180 days for devices that are already manufactured and have been shipped to other warehouse facilities. Following the grace period, there could be fines assessed for non–compliance. In a worst case scenario, companies could be prevented from selling their non–compliant devices in the U.S.

For questions regarding UDI, contact the FDA’s UDI Help Desk. Do not telephone or e-mail the FDA separately. All inquiries flow through the UDI help desk. Companies may need to discuss the project with an outside consultant to assist with UDI compliance.

By Patrick Cooney, The Federal Group, Inc.
Legislative Representative, Dental Trade Alliance

As we watch what seems to be one of the most chaotic political seasons in memory, it may seem that the future is not clear and it may create concern for some.  While I must admit that my political crystal ball is quite foggy on the outcome of this year’s November elections, I can state with confidence that the dental industry will be ready to work in a bipartisan way with whomever is elected.

Last year at the end of 2015, two significant policy changes were enacted that provided dental manufacturers with good news that helps DTA members make plans for their business growth.  The first of these two changes involved a two-year moratorium on enforcement of a 2.3% excise tax on medical and dental devices, which was first authorized as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010.  The second addressed long-standing concerns with Section 179 expensing provisions of the tax code. Congress addressed this issue in a permanent manner after years of temporary fixes, which always seemed to come late in the calendar year. 

What is significant about these positive steps forward in 2015 is that they occurred in a divided government. As Republicans control the House and Senate, Democrats continue to control the White House. Only by working to find common ground between the political parties were these two positive advancements possible.

It is clear that the Senate, which today is controlled by Republicans, is increasingly likely to be controlled by Democrats in the next Congress. This is in part due to the number of Republican senators who are up for election in comparison to Democrats. Of the 34 Senate seats up in 2016, Republicans hold 24. Democrats will need to gain 4 or 5 seats to take control.  The House is controlled by Republicans currently and even with possible significant gains by Democrats this November it will likely remain in the control of Republicans. Of interest though is that no Republican House members have lost their primary election so far this year that may translate into fewer losses than would have been previously predicted.

The race for the White House is less clear, to put it mildly. While the pundits predict that a Democrat (who is yet to be named) will have an electoral advantage given the lack of unity on a Republican candidate, fortunes can and may change. One thing has been clear during the presidential primary season: Pundits have been dead wrong on just about every turn.

Regardless the outcome of the elections, the DTA will be working with all elected officials to seek repeal of the medical/dental device excise tax as the two-year moratorium comes up for further debate. The DTA will also be making the business and public health case for continued expansion of access to dental benefits that can reduce the costs of chronic disease. It will also be seeking common sense solutions to the ongoing impacts of the Sunshine Act, which requires reporting of financial interactions with dentists and other health care professionals. 

I think Yogi Berra said it best when he stated, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”


This article was prepared by Patrick Cooney in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Dental Trade Alliance.

wcThanks in no small part to member visits during the DTA Washington Conference, we’ve enlightened Congress about the onerous nature of certain legislation. One such example is the 2.3 percent Medical Device Excise Tax, and they have responded with action that benefits our industry. However, our work is not done. We need your help at this year’s Washington Conference to continue pressing for our industry’s best interests.

The Medical Device Excise Tax, which was supposed to take effect this year, has been delayed for two years. This was a great success for our efforts, but now we must set our goals to ending the excise tax completely. Together, we can do this. While many organizations lobbied against the medical device tax, DTA was front and center with a small group of members of Congress that, in the end, were almost solely responsible for its modification.

The DTA Washington Conference has become one of the most important ways you, as a member, can become involved in federal legislation and educate congressional leaders about oral health care and our industry. During the conference, members attend a legislative briefing and meet with their elected officials and their staffs to discuss the issues. You are the most valuable resource the industry has when it comes to building relationships with our elected officials and initiating change.

We look forward to seeing you April 26-27 in Washington. Get more details about the Washington Conference and register here.

Years of DTA members’ efforts to educate Congress have come to fruition with a significant victory for the dental industry in the passage of the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act. This act suspends the Medical Device Excise Tax, makes permanent several lapsed business incentives and renews a handful of provisions that are pertinent to the dental industry. 

“While many organizations lobbied against the medical device tax, DTA was front and center with a small group of members of Congress that, in the end, were almost solely responsible for its modification,” said DTA President and CEO Gary Price. “All of us owe a great debt to the many DTA volunteers who came to Washington multiple times to lobby on this issue. These members will tell you how important it is to be involved and be persistent in your message. If you haven’t joined us for our Washington day, you should make plans to attend in 2016. Now you can see that it actually works.”

The PATH Act received bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. While one can argue the benefits and the costs of such sweeping legislation, it is generally accepted that this bill, on the whole, will have a positive net effect for the dental industry and for dental manufacturers. 

“The DTA and its members have supported a repeal of the Medical Device Excise Tax since its inclusion in the PPACA,” said DTA Chairman Eric Shirley. “DTA and its members have worked tirelessly to explain the consequences of the tax during the Washington Conference, our legislative event on Capitol Hill, and in many discussions with members of Congress. Thank you to all of the many members of the DTA and for the DTA staff who drove these efforts.”

The PATH Act has many positives for the dental industry. Here are some of the highlights of the act, pertinent to the dental industry. We encourage you to seek additional counsel as to how these provisions will impact your company.

Medical Device Excise Tax Suspended

The Medical Device Excise Tax is suspended for sales in 2016 and 2017.

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 an improvement be placed in service more than three years after the building was placed in service.

We hope to see you at the Washington Conference in April where we’ll continue to make inroads with Congress to support the dental community and oral health.