Fluoride Action Network

Health Care Players: American Dental Association

Source: National Journal Online | September 3rd, 2009 | By Beth Sussman

The ADA represents 157,000 dentist members and works to advance dentistry and advocates for issues related to oral health, especially access to dental care.

What They Want

The ADA’s top priority for health care reform legislation is an increase in funding for dental Medicaid. “When it comes to access to dental care in this country, it’s low income Americans that are facing the biggest struggle,” said Bill Prentice, director of the ADA’s Washington office. “We’d like to see the federal government step up more.”

Currently, a provision related to dental Medicaid is not included in proposed legislation. “We’re working to get that fixed,” Prentice said.

The ADA would also like to ensure that insurance reforms apply to stand-alone dental plans, as well as the larger all-encompassing health insurance options.

Deal Breakers

The ADA is apprehensive about inclusion of a government-sponsored insurance option and an employer mandate in health care reform legislation.

“Like a lot of folks, we have some concerns bout the ramifications of the public plan option, depending on how it would be constructed,” Prentice said, citing the possible impact on the private insurance market.

Because dental offices are often small businesses, Prentice said the ADA worries that an employer mandate would result in “unnecessary burdens on small employers.”

The employer mandate included in the House bill would require businesses with payrolls above $250,000 a year to either provide satisfactory insurance for employees or pay a tax.

How Much They’ve Spent

The ADA spent $1.5 million on all lobbying activities in the first half of 2009, according to lobbying disclosure forms. Not all of the group’s lobbying was directly related to health care reform legislation. In the first half of 2008, the ADA spent about $710,000 on all lobbying activities.

The ADA’s PAC and individuals associated with the group have donated $530,800 to federal candidates and political parties during the 2010 election cycle and donated $2.1 million during the 2008 election cycle. This cycle, 60 percent of the donations have gone to Democrats and 40 percent to Republicans, while 54 percent of the donations went to Democrats and 46 percent to Republicans in the 2008 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Recipients during the current election cycle include House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The ADA has not spent money on advertising related to health care reform legislation, but the group is considering running ads during the fall, Prentice said.

The group’s total revenue for 2007 was $111.1 million, according to IRS forms.

Key Players

Prentice heads a staff of 20 in the ADA’s Washington office, and says reform has been the “number one issue…over the past 6 months.” He became director of the office in 2006, after working there for six years. Before joining the ADA, Prentice was director of government affairs for the New Jersey Dental Association.

The ADA’s president, John Findley, has also been involved in health care reform discussions. Prentice is a registered lobbyist. Findley is not.

– END –


See all contributions from the American Dental Association (ADA) to US Congressional representatives in 2008.

• See also the ADA’s press release thanking Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID) for sponsoring — and the House of Representatives for passing — a resolution on May 12, 2009, congratulating the ADA on its 150th anniversary. Simpson received $10,250 from the ADA in 2008.