The AAO-supported bill, which has bipartisan support in Congress, recently passed in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
On September 9, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA) by voice vote.
ELSA is aimed at ensuring all group and individual health plans cover medically necessary services, including needed dental procedures, as a result of congenital abnormalities. The bill would also stipulate that such coverage include services and procedures that functionally repair or restore any missing or abnormal body part that is medically necessary to achieve normal body functioning or appearance. ELSA specifically clarifies that this includes adjunctive dental, orthodontic, and prosthodontics support.
The legislation would be limited to medically necessary procedures and excludes cosmetic procedures or surgeries.
The bill needs additional review from the Education and Labor and Ways and Means Committees in the House and the HELP Committee in the Senate. According to the AAO, the bipartisan bill has 42 Senate co-sponsors and 310 House co-sponsors.
Members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) advocated for the legislation in February 2020 as part of the Professional Advocacy Conference. In addition, AAO members have sent over 1,000 messages to legislators in support of the bill, according to the AAO. Recently, AAO member Douglas Harte, DMD, participated in a virtual meeting with Rep Frank Pallone (D-NJ), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, while Michael Durbin, DDS, MS, participated in a virtual meeting with Rep Cheri Bustos (D-Ill), a member of the Education and Labor Committee.
AAO members plan to continue to meet virtually with members of Congress to advocate for the bill.