The ODA's advocacy program is directed through the Government Relations Council in affiliation with DOPAC, ODA's political action committee. The House of Delegates establishes policy on issues, while the ODA Board of Trustees provides interpretation of these policies. The Government Relations Council guides development of the ODA's legislative agenda and response to legislation.
The Government Relations Council applies the below core principles with the existing political climate of the Legislature, to determine its advocacy strategy:
- It is in the best health and safety interest of the public at large and dental providers
- It maintains and protects the dentist as the head of the dental team
- It is cost effective for the public
- It addresses access to care barriers for those in need of dental services while providing adequate reimbursement to the provider
Oregon Action for Dental Health
The Oregon Dental Association, in partnership with stakeholders, has proposed a legislative package entitled Oregon Action for Dental Health. The purpose of these bills is to address the full service dental care needs of children, Medicaid patients, rural, and tribal communities in Oregon. While the number of dentists in Oregon is growing in proportion to population growth, the dental profession recognizes needs exist in underserved communities.
Renewal of the Rural Practitioners Tax Credit (SB178, introduced at request of Interim Senate Finance and Revenue Committee)
Oregon currently provides up to $5,000 in tax credits for Oregon licensed dentists who practice in ten rural counties (Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Wallowa, and Wheeler) OR in cities with under 5,000 people living 25 or more miles from another full-time general dental practice. Other criteria:
- The dentist must provide a minimum of twenty hours a week of patient care, averaged over a month in an eligible rural area.
- Eligible dentists must accept Medicare and Medicaid patients (a threshold of 20% Medicare and 15% Medicaid, or the same percentage as the county population, whichever is less).
The tax credit program expires December 31, 2017. ODA strongly supports reauthorization of the tax credit to 2024 to encourage dentists to practice in rural communities throughout Oregon.
Funding for the Oregon Medicaid Primary Care Loan Repayment Program (2017-19 Budget)
The Oregon legislature established this program to provide loan repayment to primary care clinicians, including general practice and pediatric practice dentists, who serve Medicaid patients in underserved areas of Oregon.
In exchange for a minimum three years of full-time service in a qualifying site, awardees may receive up to $105,000 to repay qualifying debt, including government or commercial student loans received for the sole purpose of covering graduate health education costs.
Qualifying practice sites include:
- Rural hospitals as defined in Oregon statute
- Federally certified Rural Health Clinics
- Federally qualified Community Health Centers
- Dental practices in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) as defined by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, OR
- Another site providing primary care services to an underserved population, as determined by the Oregon Health Authority
The ODA strongly supports the funding of this program to encourage dentists to practice in rural areas.
Native American Health Scholarship (SB 911, sponsored by Senators Ferrioli, Roblan and Kruse)
Oregon Indian tribes and the Oregon Dental Association are collaborating on legislation to create a scholarship to cover the entire cost of university tuition and fees for qualifying Indian health profession students, including dental students. Graduating students would commit to a minimum of two years working in a tribal health service site after completion of qualified health care graduate, residency, or training programs.
A qualified tribal service site would be defined as a health care facility located in Oregon with a patient population of at least 50% from a federally recognized Indian tribe. There are provisions in the bill providing for the repayment of the scholarship if a student fails to graduate or fulfill the two-year service commitment.
ODA strongly supports this legislation to train and incentivize Oregon tribal members to practice in tribal communities.
Oral Health School Screenings Law (HB 3181, sponsored by Representatives Keny-Guyer and Hayden)
In 2015, the ODA and other stakeholders successfully advocated for the enactment of HB 2972, requiring school districts to collect dental screening information for school children under age seven entering school for the first time. Schools must provide preventative dental care information to new students, and may perform dental screenings.
If schools opt to provide screenings, the screenings must be provided by either:
- A licensed dentist, licensed dental hygienist or health care practitioner acting in accordance with State Board of Education rules, OR
- A person who is an employee of an education provider AND is trained in accordance with Oregon Health Authority guidelines AND following State Board of Education rules.
School districts shall report the percentage of students who fail to submit a screening certificate to the Oregon Department of Education every year. (Certificates can be school screenings or from a child’s dentist.) Parents may opt-out of dental screening requirements.
Education providers shall:
- File any certifications and results from dental screenings known by the school in the student’s dental health record
- Provide the parent or guardian of each new student with information about the dental screenings, including need for further examinations, necessary treatments, or preventative care, including fluoride varnish, sealants, and daily hygiene
ODA is seeking to require reporting of aggregate data regarding the types and prevalence of oral health diseases found during screenings. This will provide reliable data for policy makers regarding program and funding decisions for the dental health of Oregon’s children.
Public Notice re Changes to Fluoridation of Water Supplies (SB 878, introduced by the Senate Health Care Committee)
Would require water suppliers to notify consumers of proposed changes to water fluoridation. This bill will provide notice to all users of water whether fluoridation or de-fluoridation is being considered so an informed and open public discussion can occur. ODA strongly supports this legislation.