Workgroup monitors ACA reform efforts for CDA members

Updated: May 10, 2017

On the same day he took the oath of office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This immediately placed the ACA back in the spotlight for consumers and policymakers. While provisions of the ACA remain controversial on both sides of the aisle, repealing and replacing some elements of the ACA without careful consideration has the capacity to create significant instability in the insurance marketplace and turn the tables on millions of Americans who have gained health coverage since 2010. For this reason, CDA assembled a group of volunteer dentists to monitor the impact of federal ACA reform efforts on behalf of CDA members.

The ACA reform workgroup, composed of a half-dozen member dentists, includes representation from around the state and various specialties. Since December 2016, this workgroup has been gathering information and meeting regularly with policymakers to assess the potential impact on California dentists of all federal proposals to repeal, amend or replace the ACA.

The first effort to replace the ACA with the American Health Care Act failed in late March. However, on Thursday, May 4, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the AHCA with several amendments that would allow states to request waivers to stop providing essential health benefits, such as dental, maternity and mental health coverage; re-establish annual and lifetime limits on benefits, such as chemotherapy; and charge more for sick patients with pre-existing conditions.

The AHCA in its current state (or the Senate’s version of an ACA repeal and replace bill) will likely encounter many amendments, and working these out will take time. Regardless, the challenges ahead for dentistry under the Trump administration will continue. The possibility of loss of health care coverage, including dental benefits, for the 20 million Americans who currently have coverage as the result of the ACA has the potential to derail the efforts to decrease the number of uninsured nationally and in California.

The stakes are high for California due to the successful implementation of the ACA through the Medicaid expansion and the establishment of Covered California, California’s state exchange. As a result of California’s adoption of Medicaid expansion, nearly 60 percent of all children and one-third of all adults are enrolled in Denti-Cal, California’s Medicaid dental program. California’s uninsured rate has dropped from being one of the highest in the nation at 17 percent to a low of 7.1 percent since the ACA implementation. This translates to more than 6 million Californians gaining some form of coverage through the ACA.

At the time of this writing, there are many unknowns as to the possible changes to the ACA and their potential impact on the state of California. CDA leadership and staff, in concert with the ADA, continue to engage with stakeholders and policymakers to ensure that Californians have access to affordable dental benefits that allow patients to improve their oral health and overall health.

For more information regarding the activities of the ACA reform workgroup, please visit cda.org or contact CDA Public Affairs at 916.554.4984.

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