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  WDA Healthy Choices E-Lert  
September 2011 | Legislative E-Newsletter

Issue Update:
Non-fiscal Healthy Choices bills gain support, momentum

The Wisconsin Dental Association is working with state lawmakers on legislation that will provide greater transparency in dental care costs and help more Wisconsinites access oral health care, with little or no expense to taxpayers.


AB251/SB186 - sponsored in the Senate by State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and in the Assembly by State Rep. Evan Wynn (R-Whitewater) - would prohibit dental benefit plans from setting fees for services not covered by the plan. To date, 26 states have passed so-called "non-covered services" legislation, allowing dentists and patients to make treatment decisions without third-party interference. WDA is honored to have a significant number of co-sponsors, representing both parties, for this legislation. The bill has been assigned to the Assembly Insurance and Senate Health committees.

A second bill - currently in the drafting stage - would allow dentists to assign more duties to trained, educated and certified Expanded Function Dental Auxiliaries (could be either dental hygienists or dental assistants) with the close supervision of an on-site dentist. Requiring a dentist's supervision helps maintain safety and provides patients with a vital link to routine and comprehensive dental care. Expanding delegated duties would help Wisconsin dentists and their staffs care for more patients with greater cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

Sen. Wanggaard will be sponsoring this bill in the Senate and State Rep. Michelle Litjens (R-Oshkosh) will be the Assembly sponsor. Once the draft is finalized, the WDA will seek additional co-sponsors.

Working together - and without spending more tax money - we can help get children and adults on the path to better oral health and improve the overall health of residents and our state.

If you'd like to discuss WDA's Healthy Choices legislation further and/or become a sponsor, please contact Mara Brooks at 608-250-3442 or mbrooks@wda.org.


Legislator Q&A:
Why do you support AB251/SB186 (non-covered services legislation)?

Sen. Van Wanggaard
State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine
"To me, it is an issue of fundamental fairness: When the insurance company isn't making any payment for a service, they shouldn't be establishing a fee for that service. The cost of health care services, including dental, needs to be more transparent. This proposal ensures the market sets fees, and not an external third party."
Rep. Chris Danou   State Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau
"Because I believe that if the insurance company has 'no skin in the game' and isn't actually paying for a service, they shouldn't be setting the price for that service. This bill has a big 'common sense' factor to it and that is why I decided to sign on."


In the News:
HMOs are a barrier to care

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported on why oral health is important to unborn babies.

In a letter to the editor, the WDA offered low-cost ideas for better dental access, including removing dental services from the HMO system in Wisconsin's six southeastern counties.

A state study showed converting coverage to "fee for service" would spend taxpayer dollars more efficiently and provide more people with care.

HMOs are limiting access to dental care by failing to meet their 2010 state contract obligations that require them to pay the same fees as those paid by the state for dental care in 66 non-HMO counties.

You can read more about the HMO issue here.


Dental Education:
State right to hold Marshfield to original plan

The WDA has been monitoring a recent exchange between the state Department of Administration and Marshfield Clinic. In a letter to Marshfield, the State Building Commission clarified that the clinic cannot use $10 million in state money received in 2010 to fund construction of a dental school.

The WDA believes this is a good decision. The $10 million was designated by law and in Marshfield's contract with the state to help build a "dental outreach facility". That facility was clearly defined in a Marshfield memo to lead author State Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) as consisting of only post-baccalaureate enrichment and residency programs - there was never any suggestion by Marshfield or stipulation by the Legislature or Building Commission contract that the monies be used to build a dental school.

WDA leadership has voted to support any nationally-accredited dental residency programs developed in rural or urban areas of our state. However, we remain strongly opposed to a second dental school for many reasons.

If Marshfield had intended to use the $10 million to build a dental school, that language should have been included in the original legislative bill so it could have been properly researched and the merits and alternatives publicly debated. That didn't happen, and the WDA is pleased the state is holding to the original terms of the law and the Marshfield contract.


Healthy Choices Coalition:
Groups come together to break down barriers to dental care

It was recently announced that the WDA and seven other organizations have joined together to form the Healthy Choices Coalition. Coalition members - who represent more than 119,000 state residents and serve local families, children, individuals living with disabilities and illnesses, older adults and others - said they will work with state leaders to implement WDA's Healthy Choices plan to help reduce barriers to oral health care across the Badger State.

Founding coalition members include:

"These groups serve a wide variety of individuals, illustrating how broadly barriers to dental care are felt in Wisconsin," said WDA President-Elect Dr. Steven Stoll, a general dentist who practices in Neenah. "This is a problem that affects all corners of our state. With the support of policymakers and dedicated and well-respected groups like those in our Healthy Choices Coalition, we can find cost-effective, patient-focused solutions for the long term."

If you'd like more information, or to join the Healthy Choices Coalition in reducing barriers to dental care in Wisconsin, please send e-mail to mbrooks@wda.org.


Mission of Mercy:
Successful event highlights serious problem

More than 1,500 people received an estimated $1.2 million in charitable dental care during the third WDA Foundation and WDA Mission of Mercy this summer near Wausau. Patients ranged in age from 10 months to 91 years; many camped overnight to be among the first in line for the two-day free dental clinic.

Mission of Mercy 2011

In many ways, MOM was a success - patients and volunteers had good things to say. However, the event also serves as a grim reminder that thousands of Wisconsinites face barriers to the comprehensive oral health care necessary to leading healthy and fulfilling lives.

"When people must sleep in the street to get their teeth fixed, there's a problem in Wisconsin," said Dr. Gene Shoemaker, a Waukesha general dentist and WDA president. "Charity events like MOM are very expensive, inefficient ways to deliver dental care. They are important, but they are not a long-term, permanent solution."

Five state legislators and Medicaid Director Brett Davis toured this year's MOM. They spoke on camera about their experience and what they think needs to be done to prevent the need for future large-scale charitable care events.

Videos are about two minutes in length. Hear what each had to say:

Davis   Galloway
State MA Director Brett Davis
Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau)
Krug   Petrowski
Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids)
Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon)
Seidel   Steineke
Rep. Donna Seidel (D-Wausau)
Rep. Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna)



As we enter the second week of the fall floor session, this Healthy Choices E-Lert discusses proposed non-fiscal legislation to help Wisconsinites overcome barriers to oral health care, a new coalition, the continued debate about state funding for dental education and more. If you'd like to discuss any of these issues or others related to oral health care, please let me know.

Mara Brooks   Mara Brooks, WDA Government Services Director
608-250-3442 or mbrooks@wda.org
In this Issue
WDA Leaders

Gene Shoemaker, DDS

Steve Stoll, DDS

Vice President
Tim Durtsche, DDS
La Crosse

Immediate Past-President
Kent Vandehaar, DDS
Chippewa Falls

Legislative Committee Chair
Eric teDuits, DDS

Wisconsin Dental Political Action Committee Chair
Dave Clemens, DDS
Wisconsin Dells

Executive Director
Mark Paget

Director of Government Services
Mara Brooks

Contract Lobbyist
Peter Christianson
DeWitt Ross & Stevens, S.C.

Contract Lobbyist
Forbes McIntosh
Government Policy Solutions

About the WDA

The WDA, established in 1870, is the dental profession's leading voice in Wisconsin. It has 3,000 member dentists, representing 88 percent of all licensed, practicing dentists in the state.

The WDA pursues a variety of activities and programs relating to advocacy, education, empowerment and service. All programs support the WDA's mission to promote professional excellence and quality oral health care in Wisconsin.


Executive Office: 6737 W. Washington St., Suite 2360, West Allis, WI 53214 | 414-276-4520
Legislative Office: 10 East Doty, Suite 509, Madison, WI 53703 | 608-250-3442
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