KDA Today

KDA Today

For Immediate Release

Date: Apr 30th, 2018
Contact: Dr. Beverly Largent
Phone: 800-292-1855
Email: melissa@kyda.org

Setting the Stage for Meaningful Collaboration with our Legislators

On March 1st, more than 35 dentist members of the Kentucky Dental Association met in Frankfort to build relationships with government leaders in Kentucky. The dentists brought to their legislators a list of priorities from the Kentucky Dental Association. These priorities address current issues and possible future legislation. This is the fourth year the Kentucky Dental association has sponsored a day in Frankfort.

Representative Addia Wuchner from Burlington, Kentucky greeted our dentists at the beginning of the meeting. Ms. Wuchner is a Republican representative from House District 66 and has been in the Kentucky House of Representatives since January of 2005. She currently serves on the Health and Family Services Committee, Banking and Insurance Committee and the Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee. Ms. Wuchner sponsored and read a resolution on the House floor praising the KDA for their efforts with the opioid crisis in Kentucky, referencing their soon-to-be released Opioid Brochure. Read the resolution on page __ of this publication.

KDA dentists spoke with representatives on two main issues, a Healthy Commonwealth and Tax Reform. Leading the discussion of a healthy Commonwealth was the opioid crisis in Kentucky. Dentists take a lead in education of the community, especially their patients, and by offering alternative prescribing options for patients. Dentists are also in a special position to identify possible abuse. “The Kentucky Dental Association supports efforts to limit the prescription of opioid medications in situations where it is deemed mandatory for pain relief, to educate patients and the public as to causes and effects of opioid addiction, and to safely dispose of unused opioids and other medications.” (Kentucky Dental Association Legislative Priorities)

The priority of Teledentistry in Kentucky seeks to include the dentist in the telemedicine discussion and legislation. Currently, meetings and discussion around telemedicine do not include dentistry. It is understandable that most of dentistry involves surgical procedures, but there is still a definitive role in consultation and diagnosis via intraoral cameras and electronic transmission of x-rays. It is important that dentistry be involved in regulations governing the use of electronic transmitting devices for real-time or delayed-time imaging. “The KDA supports inclusion of the dental profession as regulations regarding the use of telemedicine are developed and encourages consideration of the current licensure of dentistry in Kentucky to be an included condition of this practice.” (Kentucky Dental Association Legislative Priorities)

KDA members carried another message to the legislators concerning Non-Covered Insurance Services. “The KDA supports legislation that allows the provider to charge his usual and customary fee when a service is not covered under the patient’s insurance policy.” (Kentucky Dental Association Priorities) Not all legislators are able to understand that insurance carriers intrude on the patient/dentist relationship by setting fees or determining eligibility on procedures that the insurance company does not cover within the policy for a particular patient. This discussion further included non-covered services with a contracted dentist who provides services outside of a plan, Medically-Associated Dental Care and coordination of Medical/Dental Benefits.

One of the most potentially contentious messages brought to legislators concerned Denturity and Mid-Level Providers. “When it comes to affordability and access to health care, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The KDA has always promoted policy that protects the health of the public. Personal, direct and indirect supervision are the appropriate levels of supervision for the delegation of duties to allied dental personnel. Resolved, that the KDA’s position on any proposed new member of the dental team holds that such person shall be an individual supervised by a dentist, and that such new level of provider be sanctioned solely based upon a determination of need, for such provider, acquisition of sufficient formal accredited education and training, and a scope of practice that ensures the protection of the public’s oral health. The KDA has liberal dental team member policy and supports using our existing dental team members in an efficient, proven system that is getting more people the care that they need, now. Kentucky’s allowance for the use of appropriately-educated expanded duty dental assistants is as broad as that of any in the country.” (Kentucky Dental Association Priorities) It is extremely important that legislators hear this message prior to being exposed to legislation concerning mid-level providers. It is vitally important that law makers hear the position of the dental association delivered by their constituents.

Dentists visiting their legislators sought to educate the legislators on the state of oral health of people in Kentucky. Currently, Kentucky ranks 41st in the nation in achieving annual dental visits. The state ranks 45th in the percentage of children with untreated decay, and 47th in the percentage of adults 65 and older who are missing six or more teeth. Studies by the Academy of General Dentistry and Tufts University point to increased tooth loss in persons who smoke more than 10 years. The position of the KDA “supports efforts to reduce smoking rates in Kentucky, including taxes on tobacco and smokeless tobacco products.” (Kentucky Dental Association Legislative Priorities)

Included in the messages to legislators was a proposal for a Soda Tax. This tax on sugary drinks has been successful in other states, including West Virginia and Arkansas, where the Medicaid program has been funded since 1992. Information about the devastating health problems caused by the high acid level and high sugar level of soda was left with the legislators who were contacted. The KDA supports the use of the tax to enhance Medicaid dental coverage and create a sustainable network of dentists throughout the state. The KDA, as well, believes that Medicaid dental services are a crucial benefit for many of Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens and should be continued for as many citizens as possible who qualify for this benefit.

Additionally, dentists lobbied to prohibit a Professional Services Tax on Dentistry. “Because dental insurance is not true insurance, but rather a “dental benefit” with a limited amount of annual service-covered expenses at a dental office, many people have significant expenses at the dental office, even if they have dental insurance. Placing a tax on dental care could result in patients having to walk away from needed treatment. This could, furthermore, force patients to hospital emergency rooms for a visit that would cost significantly more and not solve the underlying problem. The Kentucky Dental Association opposes an effort to tax professional services on dentistry in Kentucky. Taxing dental care would significantly affect the health of Kentuckians.” (Kentucky Dental Association Legislative Priorities)

Dental Student Debt Load was another issue addressed in the meetings. Student debt can be reduced by legislation that would adequately fund the state schools. In addition, the KDA supports efforts to have a loan forgiveness program for graduates practicing in underserved areas in Kentucky.

This highly successful interaction between dentists and legislators sets the stage for communication and future collaborations. The presence of dentists at the Capitol underscores the dedication of KDA members to the health of Kentuckians. These meetings provide education to legislators before any legislation is introduced. Perhaps the most important result is that it puts a personal face on the Kentucky Dental Association. The Association members owe a tremendous thank you to the dentists who gave up a work day to visit Frankfort. The importance of having a relationship with legislators before dental issues arise cannot be underestimated.

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