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ADA commends Senate oral health care bill

Washington—The Association thanked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for offering "important oral health provisions" in legislation to reauthorize the landmark Older Americans Act.

"We believe that these additions are important for increasing access to needed oral health care for senior citizens," ADA President Dr. Robert A. Faiella and Executive Director Kathleen O'Loughlin said in a letter commending legislation that would include OAA oral health care provisions for the first time since its 1965 enactment.

The bill, S. 1028, would provide grants to support national dental programs to coordinate medically recommended dental care for low income individuals. The dental care would be provided by volunteer dentists at no cost to patients who have medical conditions like diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disease or kidney disease or need heart or joint replacements or transplants.

This was among the May 13-15 Washington Leadership Conference "asks" as dental leaders across the nation urged support for pro bono medically recommended legislation pending in the House and Senate. Sen. Sanders' bill would fold these free-standing bills into the Older Americans Act. The senator chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions subcommittee on primary health and aging.

A June 19 Senate hearing on the Older Americans Act was called to address senior hunger and poverty.

The Association also thanked the senator for another provision in his OAA reauthorization bill. "We are also pleased that you have included dental expenses in Section 209 of the bill, which requires the Secretary of Labor to revise the Experimental Price Index for the Elderly commonly referred to as the CPI-E," the ADA officials said.

"Adults are increasingly keeping their teeth well into old age, placing increasing demands for services on the dental profession as well as incurring more expense as consumers. Dental care is paid for much differently than most medical care; therefore, indexing dental expenditures will be helpful in understanding the impact of these expenses on the elderly. We anticipate that the greater number of elderly individuals requiring dental care will change the way dentistry is practiced in the future. Including expenses in the CPI-E will help the dental profession better understand the impact of those expenditures."