U.S. Congress considers Action for Dental Health bill

Rep. Mike Simpson, DMD (R-ID), an Idaho dentist, has cosponsored a bill to authorize oral health grants "to improve essential oral healthcare for lower income individuals by breaking down barriers to care." Robin Kelly (D-IL) is the Democratic cosponsor.

The Action for Dental Health Act of 2015, HR 539, would authorize U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grants to support volunteer dental projects and collaborative initiatives, according to an ADA news release.

The bill's goals are listed below:

  • To improve oral health education and dental disease prevention, including community-wide prevention programs, use of dental sealants and fluoride varnish, and increasing oral health literacy
  • To make the healthcare delivery system providing dental services more accessible and efficient through the development and expansion of outreach programs that will facilitate the establishment of dental homes for children and adults, including the aged, blind and disabled populations
  • To reduce geographic, language, cultural, and similar barriers in the provision of dental services
  • To help reduce the use of emergency departments by those who seek dental services more appropriately delivered in a dental primary care setting
  • To facilitate the provision of dental care to nursing home residents who are disproportionately affected by lack of care

The legislation also would authorize CDC grants with eligible entities to obtain portable or mobile dental equipment and pay for appropriate operational costs, as well as provide free dental services to underserved populations that are delivered in a manner consistent with state licensing laws.

"We're delighted that these bipartisan members of Congress understand the need for action and are supporting us in this ambitious undertaking," said ADA President Maxine Feinberg, DDS, in a statement. "Dentists across the country are taking up this challenge with renewed determination. But we can't do this alone. We need everyone with a stake in a healthier nation to join us."

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