The AAO has endorsed an amendment to the financial reform legislation currently being debated by Congress that would exempt orthodontists from a proposed Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

The small business safe harbor amendment introduced by Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Me), the ranking member of the Senate Small Business Committee, and Mary Landrieu (D-La), chair of the Small Business Committee, clarifies Congressional intent that the new bureau would not have jurisdiction over small businesses, including health care professionals like orthodontists and dentists, that do not regularly sell financial services products. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn), who chairs the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee (which is drafting the financial reform bill) also helped develop the amendment.

The AAO, the ADA, and other health care professionals had expressed concern that ambiguous language in the original bill could inadvertently subject health care professionals who extend credit to patients to pay for treatment to the bureau’s jurisdiction. The AAO worked with Senators Snowe, Landrieu, and Dodd to develop a more definitive exemption for the small business community.

The amendment exempts entities that meet a three-part test: 1) They do not offer financial services products to customers or patients; 2) they do not securitize loans; and 3) they meet the Small Business Administration’s current definition of a "small business."

"Main Street small businesses like orthodontists and other health care professionals are at the heart of the American economy and had nothing to do with the financial crisis that is  being addressed in this reform legislation," said Lee W. Graber, DDS, MS, PhD, president of the AAO. "We appreciate the hard work and leadership demonstrated by Senator Dodd, Senator Snowe, and Senator Landrieu as they worked with us to develop clear language that focuses the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection jurisdiction on financial services products instead of on the small business community."

"Small businesses will lead our economy out of recession and put millions back to work so long as we remain free of unnecessary regulatory oversight. The AAO endorses the exemption language in the amendment as a common-sense fix that addresses our concerns," Graber added.