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ADA engages in access Q and A with U.S. Senate

March 14, 2012

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Washington—The terms of engagement were forged in the 60th minute of a Feb. 29 Senate hearing on the “Dental Crisis in America: The Need to Expand Success.” See related report.

Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.), “Bernie” at his personal Senate website and “Bernard” at the website of the primary health and aging subcommittee he chairs, acknowledged the “provocative” nature of the question he put to hearing witnesses but did not acknowledge the absence of uninvited witnesses who could have answered.

“In your judgment” has the American Dental Association, have state dental societies been aggressive in standing up and saying we have a problem and as professionals dealing with this issue of dentistry we’re going to solve this problem?” the senator asked. “Has the American Dental Association with state dental societies stepped up to the plate and done what they have to do to protect the dental needs of the American people?”

The uninvited American Dental Association offered a statement Feb. 29 welcoming the hearing “in the hope that it will spur lawmakers to address the many barriers to oral health while rejecting the suggestion that there can be a simple fix to the problems.” In a supplemental statement March 13 the American Dental Association offered an 11-page “response to questions raised“ at the hearing.

The Association submitted the supplemental statement to the staff of primary care and aging subcommittee of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and will deliver copies to the eight subcommittee Democrats and six Republicans, including Sen. Sanders, the Vermont Independent who is also listed on the subcommittee web page among the panel’s ranking Democrats. The statement is intended for the hearing record.

The statement cites the ethical obligation of dentists “to use their skills, knowledge and experience for the improvement of the dental health of the public” and describes activities of individual dentists and state dental societies, the profession’s state and federal legislative advocacy and public health interventions, and collaborative efforts of the oral health stakeholder community to increase access to care.