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‘Scrap it and start over’

ADA, AAPD assail workforce report

Washington—The ADA and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry urged the Health Resources and Services Administration to reject a federal advisory panel’s dental workforce recommendations in a draft health personnel report to Congress.

The pipeline of future primary care medical and dental providers is severely limited and “interventions are required” to ensure an adequate supply of primary care physicians and dentists, says the report drafted by HRSA’s Advisory Committee on Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry, which advises the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Congress on the primary care workforce.

The report, ninth in a series of annual reports to health policymakers, envisions “a health care system that cares for all patients within a patient centered medical-dental home” and “consisting of a team of health care professionals providing coordinated comprehensive care.” Among 11 proposals are recommendations for dental faculty programs, dental applications from underserved and rural areas, public dentistry practice and dental workforce models.

“Unfortunately, for the ninth draft report, we believe it is so fraught with errors and misplaced emphasis that the ACTPCMD should scrap it and start over, at least for the sections that address dental programs,” the dental organizations said in a letter to the committee. “The AAPD and ADA have consistently supported Title VII programs for decades. Our organizations do not wish to see HRSA diminishing the past success of these programs while diverting funds for ill-conceived initiatives.” Title VII of the Public Health Service Act authorizes health professions education and training grants.

The ADA-AAPD letter said the draft report “seems to ignore many of the recommendations and conclusions from previous ACTPCMD reports” and:

  • Confuses the dental and medical home models;
  • Misconstrues the purpose of the 2010 health reform law;
  • Overstates a shortage of dentists and underestimates other factors impacting access, and
  • Advocates dental therapists to improve oral health access by mischaracterizing available evidence.

“Further, the draft report grossly under-estimates the number of dentists currently available or available in the near future to care for the population,” said the letter signed by the elected and staff leadership of the dental organizations. “This is quite incredible given that eight new dental schools opened from 1997-2011, as well as two additional dental schools that are slated to have their first class in 2013.”

The HRSA advisory committee is scheduled to meet Nov. 7-8 in the nation’s capital. As indicated by the draft agenda, the panel will discuss interprofessional collaborative practice across the professions, interprofessional education, the patient-centered health home and new legislative authorities on performance measures and longitudinal evaluation.