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ADA, AAPD urge Congress to reauthorize CHIP

December 14, 2017

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry are once again urging Congress to reauthorize the Children's Health Insurance Program in order to improve "access to oral health care for all Americans."

"It has been 75 days since CHIP's authorization expired and while we appreciate the work that has been done in both the House and Senate to move toward passing legislation, we cannot wait any longer," wrote ADA President Joseph P. Crowley and AAPD President James D. Nickman in a Dec. 14 letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as well as members of the Senate Finance Committee and House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Drs. Crowley and Nickman pointed out that CHIP provides "much needed" oral health services to the nearly 9 million children and pregnant women enrolled in the program.

"Dental care has the highest level of cost barriers compared to other health care services, with more individuals forgoing needed dental care over prescription drugs, medical care, eyeglasses or mental health services," Drs. Crowley and Nickman wrote, noting that poor oral health can have serious long-term effects on an individual's life and that tooth decay remains the most common, chronic disease among children and adolescents.

The two organizations also highlighted the economic impact of untreated dental disease, citing ADA Health Policy Institute research that found emergency room visits for a dental condition occurred every 14 seconds in the United States in 2014, costing approximately $863 a visit compared with an average dental office visit cost of $240.

"As health coverage costs continue to rise, CHIP provides a safety-net for families in every state," Drs. Crowley and Nickman wrote. "Nearly 90 percent of children in CHIP live in families with incomes less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or $40,480 for a family of three.  

For more information, visit ADA.org/Advocacy.