Nahid_MalekiNahid Maleki, DDS, MS, current president of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), was in Washington, DC, recently to visit lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Maleki’s discussions with lawmakers focused on issues important to orthodontists, including reducing student debt, passage of the AAO’s RAISE Act, and tax reform.

Maleki met with House of Representatives members Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) and John Garamendi (D-Calif) to discuss the student debt issue. Garamendi is lead sponsor of the Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculation Act, which would allow students to refinance their student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note rate, plus 1%; set future student loan interest rates at the 10-year Treasury note rate, plus 1%; eliminate origination fees on student loans; delay student loan interest rate accrual for borrowers with an expected family contribution of less than, or equal to, $10,000 while they are in school; allow for borrowers with an expected family contribution greater than $10,000 to accrue only the base rate on their unsubsidized loans while they are in school; and allow for borrowers in medical or dental residencies to defer payments until the completion of their program.

In addition, Maleki was able to meet with representatives for Rep Tom Reed (R-NY), Ways and Means Committee member and co-sponsor of the Student Refinancing and Recalculation Act during the last Congress, to share the AAO’s specific concerns about student debt and encourage Reed’s support for the current Act. Maleki also met with the House Democratic Whip, Steny Hoyer (D-Md), and discussed the student debt issue.

On tax reform, Maleki met with Rep Jason Smith (R-Mo), who recently reintroduced the Bring Small Business Back Tax Reform Act. The legislation would amend the Internal Revenue Code to establish new maximum individual tax rates for qualified business income that does not exceed $1 million (ie, small business income).

With regard to the Responsible Additions and Increases to Sustain Employee Health Benefit Act (RAISE Act), Maleki met with Rep Bob Latta (R-Ohio), sponsor of the AAO’s RAISE Act, which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in February 2017. The RAISE Act calls for an increase in the employee contribution to Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). While thanking Latta for his support, Maleki also called on Representatives Jason Smith, Tom Reed, and Ann Wagner (R-Mo) to all co-sponsor the bill.

Maleki’s visit to Washington also included a meeting with Sarah Milligan, the American Dental Association Political Action Committee (ADPAC) director. They and AAO Associate General Counsel Sean Murphy discussed ways the AAO and ADA can continue to work together to support Congressional candidates who support dental and orthodontic issues. According to the AAO, Milligan was quick to comment that she was impressed by the AAO’s increased presence in Washington and looks forward to the ADA and AAO forming further alliances to promote issues important to both dentists and orthodontists.