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

The small business safe harbor amendment introduced by Senators OlympiaSnowe (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 havejurisdiction over small businesses, including health care professionalslike orthodontists and dentists, that do not regularly sell financialservices products. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn), who chairs theSenate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee (which is draftingthe financial reform bill) also helped develop the amendment.

The AAO, the ADA, and other health care professionals had expressedconcern that ambiguous language in the original bill could inadvertentlysubject health care professionals who extend credit to patients to payfor treatment to the bureau’s jurisdiction. The AAO worked with SenatorsSnowe, Landrieu, and Dodd to develop a more definitive exemption forthe small business community.

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

"Main Street small businesses like orthodontists and other health careprofessionals are at the heart of the American economy and had nothingto do with the financial crisis that is being addressed in this reformlegislation," said Lee W. Graber, DDS, MS, PhD (pictured), president of the AAO."We appreciate the hard work and leadership demonstrated by SenatorDodd, Senator Snowe, and Senator Landrieu as they worked with us todevelop clear language that focuses the Bureau of Consumer FinancialProtection jurisdiction on financial services products instead of on thesmall business community."

"Small businesses will lead our economy out of recession and putmillions back to work so long as we remain free of unnecessaryregulatory oversight. The AAO endorses the exemption language in theamendment as a common-sense fix that addresses our concerns," Graberadded.