Democrats are under pressure to scale back their $3.5 trillion budget package, potentially putting proposed expansions to Medicare and Medicaid on the chopping block, according to a New York Times report. Party factions disagree over whether to add dental, hearing and vision benefits to Medicare or to provide more Americans with low incomes insurance coverage, especially in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs and noted, "pragmatists realize that some concessions will have to be made." The article quoted Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who said it's "possible that Democrats would expand both Medicare and Medicaid in more modest ways, perhaps by phasing in benefits." The budget package includes savings from a plan to allow Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies as a way to pay for the proposed expansions, but last week the House Energy and Commerce Committee removed it from the legislation. If the drug pricing language does not pass the House, the report said, it would mean the loss of $500 billion Democrats had wanted to use to pay for Medicare and Medicaid expansion. The ADA continues to urge all dentists to contact their members of Congress to oppose the proposed legislation and urge Congress to support a Medicare dental benefit targeted to low-income seniors. To do so, visit ActionCenter.ADA.org. For more information, visit ADA.org/Medicare.
Advocacy by state dental societies, working with the ADA, resulted in almost 100 dental insurance reform proposals in state legislatures in 2020-21, leading to 26 new laws in 16 states, according to ADA News. "In Washington, D.C., the ADA lobbies Congress and the administration, fighting for things that matter to dentists and the patients they serve," said David White, D.D.S., chair of the ADA Council on Government Affairs. "The ADA also provides advocacy advice and technical support to help state dental societies advance their respective policy agendas." Legislative victories include HB 359 in Utah, which requires dental insurers to make their policies fully transparent, and HB 1154 in North Dakota, which covers prior authorization of dental services, provider network leasing and retroactive denial of claim payments.
The administration said it would lift travel bans on 33 countries in November and allow people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to fly to the US, according to The New York Times. The change could help increase tourism in the US and reunite people separated from their families. The CDC will require airlines to collect travelers' phone numbers and email addresses to create a new tracking system.
As much as we want to see your smile in person, we understand if you can't make it to Las Vegas. But with SmileCon™ Virtual, you can still be part of the magic happening in Vegas and discover opportunities to earn CE. With your virtual pass, you can get a sneak peek backstage before the opening and closing sessions, listen in on a DENT Talk, witness the crowd-sourced mock trial on oral sepsis and speakers exclusive to SmileCon Virtual. Register today.
ADA News reported that Bento, an ADA-endorsed provider of alternatives to traditional dental insurance, will be at booth C2503 in Dental Central during the SmileCon meeting in Las Vegas Oct. 11 to 13. Bento representatives will talk with attendees about how its in-office membership plans and self-funded group or individual plans are disrupting the dental benefits market, which could increase revenues for dentists. Bento Vice President of Growth Landon Lemoine will host three live sessions during the conference on how Bento can help dental practices succeed. More information can be found at ADA.org/Bento.
A study in the journal Obesity that tracked pediatric body mass index by ZIP code found significant variation among four US regions, according to Healio. After accounting for sociodemographic factors, children living in the West and South had lower mean BMI z scores, compared with those in the Northeast. Midwest children had higher scores than those in the Northeast, and there was variation in scores by ethnicity, researchers found.
Electronic health records data from one specialty clinic showed there were 39.5% fewer patients with concussions seen from March 2020 to February 2021, compared with March 2019 to February 2020, researchers reported in the Journal of Neurotrauma. The study, reported by HealthDay News, showed patients sought care for concussions 25.8 days later during the COVID-19 pandemic period, and were 1.9 years older than patients presenting before the pandemic.
Medscape reported that the COVID-19 death toll has reached 675,000 in the US, surpassing the number of Americans thought to have died during the 1918 influenza pandemic, and COVID-19 deaths are now averaging 2,000 per day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The CDC reported that as of Monday, 386.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in the US, according to Reuters, with 181.7 million fully vaccinated and more than 2.2 million Americans given a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
This year's Colorado Mission of Mercy dental charity event is scheduled for Sept. 24-25 and will include almost 200 dentists and 100 dental hygienists, the Daily Record of Canon City, Colo., reported. Organizers plan to treat 500 patients per day on both days. Attendees are required to wear masks and either show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or have a rapid COVID-19 test onsite.
A free webinar that will stream from noon to 1 p.m. Central time Oct. 21 will cover how dentists can help reduce the opioid crisis and the relationship between treatments for acute pain and substance use and addiction, ADA News reported. The webinar will be led by Sharon Parsons, D.D.S., and David Kimberly, D.D.S., M.D., both past presidents of the Ohio Dental Association. "Our understanding of pain relief has progressed tremendously over the last decade even as the opioid crisis has continued to plague our nation," said Dr. Kimberly, an oral surgeon. "Dentists have taken a major role in changing the way we treat acute pain and Dr. Parsons and I are excited to share what we have learned." Participants can earn one hour of continuing education credit.
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