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Rep. Robin Kelly Reintroduces Action for Dental Health Act, Rep. Mike Simpson Is Lead GOP Cosponsor

January 28, 2015 WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) yesterday introduced the Action for Dental Health Act of 2015 (H.R. 539) a bill to support efforts nationwide to improve the dental health of underserved people.  Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), a dentist, joined Rep. Kelly as lead Republican cosponsor.  

The bill takes its name from the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Action for Dental Health, a nationwide, community-based movement to deliver care now to people already suffering with dental disease, strengthen and expand the public/private safety net, and bring dental health education and disease prevention into underserved communities.  

“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 Dr. Maxine Feinberg.  “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.”  

The Action for Dental Health Act will allow organizations to qualify for HHS oral health grants to support activities that improve oral health education and dental disease prevention, including developing and expanding outreach programs that will facilitate establishing dental homes for children and adults, including the elderly, blind and disabled.   

“This bill adds no additional burden to taxpayers,” said Dr. Feinberg. “Rather, it will redirect existing resources to the kinds of programs that are already proven to reduce and eliminate the barriers that prevent millions of Americans from achieving good oral health.”
The bill would support the types of initiatives identified by the ADA as having the greatest impact on dental access disparities, including:

•    Reducing the number of people who visit the emergency room for dental conditions, by referring them to community health centers or private dental practices, where they can receive proper dental care;

•    Expanding access to care for the vulnerable elderly in nursing homes;

•    Supporting charitable programs like Give Kids A Smile and Missions of Mercy, through which directly provide care to disadvantaged children and adults who are suffering from lack of dental care today;

•    Ensuring more Americans have access to drinking water with fluoride; and

•    Strengthening collaborations with other health professionals and organizations.

Dr. Feinberg pledged the ADA’s full effort to build support for and ultimately pass this bill.  

“Representatives Kelly and Simpson are stepping up for the nation’s oral health,” said Dr. Feinberg. “The 158,000 members of the American Dental Association will do everything possible to help them pass this bill into law.”

About the ADA

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 159,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The monthly The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit ADA.org. For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website MouthHealthy.org