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Advocacy News

In Annual Rite, ADA Asks Congress to Provide Adequate Funding for IHS Dental Programs

February 07, 2017

Every year the ADA lobbies Congress for Indian Health Service dental program funding. This year the Association is asking Congress to accept the House-passed appropriations measure that would provide approximately $186 million in IHS dental spending. This is $5.1 million more than the Senate funding proposal.

The ADA believes the higher level of spending is necessary to maintain current oral health care services for American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

"Having a sufficient and strong dental workforce is an important aspect for providing oral health care to American Indians and Alaskan Natives (AI/ANs)," wrote ADA President Dr. Gary Roberts and Executive Director Kathleen O'Loughlin in a letter to House and Senate appropriations leaders. "The IHS dental program anticipates that there will be over 100 dentist vacancies this year. A reduction in program funding will hamper the agency's ability to fill those positions. Fewer providers will significantly decrease the number of patients who can access dental care."

Federal agencies by law are forbidden to lobby on their own behalf, often relying on private organizations with an interest in their work to do it for them. IHS dental programs are one of the critical functions of government that the ADA has a long history of supporting.