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ADA, others ask Congress to extend children's coverage

October 02, 2017

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA, Children's Dental Health Project and more than 100 stakeholders want federal legislators to know: The oral health community is united in calling upon Congress to take action and to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program for at least 5 years.

In an Oct. 2 email sent to House and Senate staff, 119 health care organizations told legislators that "if Congress does not act swiftly, 9 million children are at risk of losing medical and dental coverage." Federal funding for CHIP expired on Sept. 30.
 
"CHIP is a 20-year bipartisan success story," the stakeholders wrote, and the program is "a critical safety net for American children who do not qualify for Medicaid, but whose families would struggle to afford private coverage, particularly dental coverage."

"Tooth decay remains the most common chronic condition among children and adolescents, impacting school performance and attendance. Furthermore, without access to regular dental care, poor oral health will continue to affect children into adulthood impacting all facets of their lives — from their overall health status, to their employability, earnings potential and even military readiness. Simply put, CHIP provides children with the tools they need to succeed."

The stakeholders pointed out that children covered by CHIP are more likely to have regular access to care and are also "more likely to have preventative physician and dentist visits, and less likely to report unmet medical and dental care needs," citing the 2017 Report to Congress on Medicaid and CHIP and the the National Health Interview Surveys from 1997-2014.

They stressed that the future of CHIP is of "critical importance" and urged legislators to "act quickly to renew" the program.

"Congress has the chance to invest wisely in the next generation of children by simply extending CHIP, a program that is widely successful on the ground, endorsed by all 50 governors, and has a strong history of bipartisan Congressional support," they concluded.