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Advocacy News

Congress Moving Slower than Usual, Appropriations Process Stalled

July 30, 2014

The looming August recess combined with mid-term elections will probably slow legislative work on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks.  House Republican leadership plans to address four key issues ahead of the summer district work period: a short-term spending bill to keep government funded and operating at current levels beyond Oct. 1; a GOP response to the White House’s supplemental budget request; Veterans Affairs Department reform measures; and formal authorization of Speaker of the House John Boehner's (R-Ohio) lawsuit over President Obama's use of executive actions.

Spending bills for fiscal year 2015 are unlikely to move in the short term. Although the House passed some appropriations, the Senate has passed none. The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, however, recently issued a report to accompany whatever fiscal year 2015 appropriations legislation finally clears the full committee. To follow is some of the dental-related language in that report:

“The Committee is concerned about conflicting information in the media regarding the benefits of community fluoridation and urges NIDCR to enhance efforts to communicate sound science related to dental caries and their prevention.”

“The Committee is also aware of the significant need for dental providers in rural communities who can provide oral healthcare and education to individuals on the importance of proper oral care and prevention, and remains concerned about the number of unnecessary hospital emergency room visits for oral health issues. The Committee encourages the Office of Rural Health Policy to support mobile dentistry programs led by properly licensed dental providers. The Committee recognizes that these community based programs were designed to allow maximum flexibility in the use of these funds to meet local healthcare needs that are unique to rural communities.”

“The Committee recognizes the key role that Maternal and Child Health Centers in Pediatric Dentistry provide in preparing dentists with dual training in pediatric dentistry and dental public health, fostering academic leadership, and developing expertise in the treatment of children with special healthcare needs. The Committee urges HRSA [Health Resources and Services Administration] to continue providing incentives for these centers to leverage resources to strengthen and expand their activities.”

The ADA continues to lobby both Senate and House appropriators to ensure that oral health research, residency programs and prevention measures receive the level of funding they need.