ADA lauds bill to address health shortages, disparities

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The ADA is supporting a bill that would address the healthcare workforce shortage and health disparities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association praised Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) for introducing S 4055, called the Strengthening America's Health Care Readiness Act, which would invest in the U.S. National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the National Disaster Medical System. The legislation would "restore the pipeline of dentists," wrote ADA President Chad Gehani, DDS, and Executive Director Kathleen O'Loughlin, DMD, in an August 28 letter.

"Expansion of these NHSC programs would not only address existing health workforce shortages throughout the country, but would also tackle the issue of student loan indebtedness," Drs. Gehani and O'Loughlin wrote. "Student debt associated with graduate dental education is a substantial barrier in meeting our nation's oral health workforce needs."

The legislation would address student loan debt by providing loan repayment and scholarships in exchange for service, according to Drs. Gehani and O'Loughlin. It would also ensure that underserved urban and rural communities received dental care.

"The bill's inclusion of the [40%] in set-aside funding for racial and ethnic minorities and students from low-income urban and rural areas will address existing inequalities and reduce disparities and barriers to entry into the dental profession," they wrote.

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