White Hat Issue: Coverage for Congenital Anomalies
On January 23, the ASPS Executive Committee approved the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA) as the Society's white hat issue for the 2019-2020 legislative session. Following the 2015 passage of the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act, the Legislative Advocacy Committee was tasked with selecting a new white hat issue to advocate on at the federal level that highlights the importance and life-altering work of the specialty. As such, the committee selected the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act, which is bipartisan legislation that would require all group and individual health plans to cover medically necessary reconstructive procedures to treat a patient's congenital anomaly.
ASPS previously advocated in support of this measure in 2018 and will increase its advocacy efforts on the issue now that it has been selected as the Society's white hat issue. Over the past few months, ASPS has worked closely with the bill's Senate and House leads, Sen. Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), in preparation of the bill's reintroduction in the 116th Congress. The Society has worked closely with Peterson's office to identify new Republican co-leads to ensure that the bill garners bipartisan support. Additionally, the Society has been actively working with the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), the National Federal of Ectodermal Dysplasias (NFED), and the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) as part of the ELSA Coalition to prepare a strategy plan for the bill's advancement in the new 116th Congress.
The Society looks forward to advocating again to advance this issue during its 2019 Advocacy Summit on June 17-19 in Washington, D.C. Last year, ASPS members met with 85 members of Congress and urged them to support this measure. ASPS also deployed physician "Reply-Yes" campaign letters to 74 members of Congress before and after the Advocacy Summit urging them to cosponsor the legislation. Collectively, the grassroots campaigns and meetings with congressional offices raised awareness about the bill and helped secure 23 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and the Senate. Over the next year, ASPS will continue to actively engage with members of Congress in meetings and through grassroots campaigns to identify new cosponsors and help secure passage of the bill in both chambers of Congress.