Older Americans Act to include oral healthcare if amended

For the first time, federal funds for oral health screenings for older Americans will be made available if the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015 is enacted. The Older Americans Act was amended to included "oral health" as part of routine health screenings.

The Older Americans Act provides funding to more than 680 state and area agencies on aging and also supports a range of social and nutrition services and programs for nearly 12 million U.S. seniors, according to an ADA News story. The ADA stated that this passage is an important step toward comprehensive preventive and restorative oral care.

"For the first time since the bill's enactment in 1965, oral health is specifically referenced in the [Older Americans Act]," the association stated. "The new provision would allow state and area aging agencies to use funds for disease prevention and health promotion activities to conduct oral health screenings."

The bill (S. 192), sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), was approved unanimously by voice vote by the Senate on July 16. It now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives. The website govtrack.us gives the legislation a 66% chance of enactment, as of July 20.

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