Dental Trade Alliance holds annual Washington conference

April 21, 2015
DTA meets with members of Congress.

Alliance argues lowering cost of doing business good for companies, patients

Last week, members of the Dental Trade Alliance (DTA) (Arlington, Virginia) spent the day visiting representatives from Congress to discuss the medical device tax, the Sunshine Act, an extension of section 179, and the connection of oral health to overall health.

Nearly 30 DTA members representing 20 companies in 10 states participated in the DTA Washington Conference. The annual event has become one of the most important ways DTA members help shape federal legislation and educate Congressional leaders about oral health care and the dental industry.

“DTA members can make a significant contribution to our efforts in Washington,” said DTA President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Price. “The impact of local voters on elected representatives is very strong. Bringing the message from back home really gets their attention.”

The DTA took policy positions and placed emphasis on the following arguments at the conference:

Oral health and overall health

While dental health care is a small portion of the total expenditure for health care in the US, emphasis on good oral health is increasing as more studies show links between oral health and health in the rest of the body. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and low birth weight infants are linked to oral disease.

Medical device tax

The DTA believes the excise tax on medical devices disproportionately affects dental companies. Although the Obama administration argues there will be windfall profits resulting from increased health-care coverage, this is not the case for dental companies. Because of this, the DTA is concerned that any increase in the cost of dental care resulting from the added tax will affect access to oral care.

Sunshine Act

The burden of reporting costs for dental manufacturers far exceeds any intended benefit of transparency in relationships with providers. The vast majority of dental consumable products and equipment are low-cost items, and the choice of product does not influence patient care. The cost of implementing a mechanism to report, as well as the actual reporting itself, will add costs to the dental health-care system. Any additional volume of items reported will require updating computer systems even for the smallest manufacturer. The majority of the added costs will be on patients and providers.

Extension of section 179

Businesses need confidence that they can purchase equipment throughout the year and qualify for section 179 depreciation deductions. Extending this portion of the tax code will spur significant growth for small and medium-size businesses, which will lead to job creation.

Source: DTA press release, 4/16/15

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Updated April 22, 2016