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President Obama last night signed into law language clarifying that dentists may be considered disaster response public health responders to disasters or other public health emergencies. The president’s action brings to a close a two-year effort by the American Dental Association to include the language in the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act (PAHPA). The law also clarifies that dental schools are eligible to receive federal funds to train public health and medical response workers.
The reauthorization will ensure that programs created almost 10 years ago to help the government manage medical responses to natural disasters and other emergencies will remain in place. The reauthorizing law contains language that includes dentistry in the response framework, taking advantage of dentists’ extensive education, training and professionalism.
The new language does not mandate emergency response participation by dentists but gives states the option of incorporating dentists and dental facilities into their planning.
"We would like to thank the president for signing this important legislation," said Dr. Robert Faiella, ADA president. "And we especially want to thank Rep. Mike Burgess who championed the dental language in this bill from the beginning."