Monumental ruling on “Obamacare” sparks concern over midlevel models

[photo source: U.S. news.com]

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld the mandate in the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act, providing individuals lacking health care coverage pay a fine. The first fines will be taxed in 2014 in response to this surprising and controversial move. PBS, which recently dedicated a Frontline episode to access to care in dentistry,  outlines the bill’s “winners” and “losers”.

The ADA posted a statement in response to the ruling siting their March 2010 reaction to the eventual passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Though the ADA found provisions in ACA benefiting oral health, the provision most under scrutiny by dentistry is increased funding for dental therapists. Supporters see midlevel provider models as an answer to dwindling oral health resources. Critics question the ability of dental therapists to deliver quality care given their substantially limited training. ASDA’s stance is that only qualified dentists should be performing irreversible procedures.

ASDA Chicago Administrative Extern, Megan Guthman, Alabama ’14, voices her concern:

Dental students attend four years of undergraduate education and four years of dental school to become an expert on the whole body, not just the mouth. Many people see a dentist more often than they see a general practitioner, so it becomes our duty to evaluate our patient’s total health. Midlevel providers are intended to help low income and rural populations; these populations often have the most complicated systemic and oral problems. I worry that the patients in need of the most advanced and complex care will suffer, and signs of preventable or treatable systemic disease may go unnoticed.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled and overturning such a law can take years, those in the dental profession are turning their focus to the responsibility of dentistry in moving forward.

As the ACA becomes reality and individuals seek health coverage and affordable care, what’s clear is that dentistry will continue to fight for the best interests of the patient.

~Erin Kato, ASDA Membership Administrator


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