Dental Tribune International
With Joe Biden set to be inaugurated as the next U.S. president, attention has turned to the impact his election will have on American dentistry. (Image: Ron Adar/Shutterstock)

U.S. presidential election: What does it mean for dentistry?

By Brendan Day, Dental Tribune International
November 19, 2020

WASHINGTON, U.S.: On Nov. 3, the 59th U.S. presidential election was held. Owing to a record number of mail-in ballots and extremely tight contests in swing states such as Georgia and Pennsylvania, it was several days before The Associated Press declared Joe Biden to be victorious in succeeding the incumbent Republican president, Donald Trump. Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris are set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20 next year, and it is time to ask what effect a Biden presidency could have on American dentistry.

According to his presidential campaign’s website, Biden’s overarching aim in terms of health care is to protect and expand upon the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a statute introduced in 2010 by former President Barack Obama that sought to improve access to health care for those without insurance. By 2016, this policy had seen the number of Americans lacking health insurance fall from 44 million to 27 million, the website states. Conversely, this number has increased by approximately 1.4 million since Trump took office.

Though Biden’s plan is promising, it does not explicitly mention how the expansion of the ACA will affect the provision of dental services for patients. As Dr. Marko Vujicic, chief economist and vice president of the Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association (ADA), outlined in a 2017 article for the website Health Affairs, whereas children’s dental care is considered by the ACA to be an essential form of health care, “dental care for adults is not an essential health benefit under the [ACA].”

ADA plans to work with Biden administration

To help further gauge the response of American dentists to Biden’s election, Dental Tribune International (DTI) spoke to Dr. Shervin Molayem, a Los Angeles-based periodontist, and Mike Graham, the ADA’s senior vice president of government and public affairs.

“Given the current circumstances, I’d like to see the incoming administration help to facilitate methods that would allow dental practices to conduct faster SARS-CoV-2 testing of patients,” Molayem said.

“In addition, it would be great to see more funding allocated to providing practices with adequate PPE [personal protective equipment], and for the administration to keep dental offices open as they currently are,” he added.

“The ADA is the voice of thousands of dentists who care deeply about their patients and their profession,” Graham told DTI. “Dentists offer bipartisan support for elected officials and candidates who share the same goal: to promote the oral health of Americans.”

“We congratulate all who were voted into office this month and look forward to working with the incoming elected officials, in Congress and the White House, to help dentists, patients and the profession make a difference in Washington, D.C., and improve the oral health of our country,” Graham continued.

As the ADA announced earlier this month, five of its members were elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives when Congress convenes next January. Drs. Mike Simpson, Paul Gosar, Brian Babin, Drew Ferguson and Jeff Van Drew—all members of the Republican Party—were successful in their election campaigns, whereas a sixth candidate, Dr. Gary Wegman, running as a member of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania, failed to win.

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