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ADA comments on Senate dental bill

October 25, 2013

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Washington—The Association “cannot support” dental legislation offered in the Senate and referred to the Finance Committee but commended Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., “for your efforts to address our nation's dental crisis and help break down the barriers that prevent millions of Americans from receiving regular dental care.”

“Access to dental care is a multifaceted problem and we appreciate that the Comprehensive Dental Reform Act of 2013 recognizes this and that no single solution will eliminate it,” the Association told Sen. Sanders, sponsor of S. 1522 (PDF), in a letter analyzing (PDF) access, coverage, education, research and workforce provisions in the bill.

The letter includes ADA comments on provisions relating to Medicaid, Medicare, the National Health Service Corps, community health centers, dental clinics, dental education, hospital emergency rooms, research funding, mobile dental services, residency programs, student loans and federal dental services including the Indian Health Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“Many factors can profoundly affect oral health, including poverty, geography, lack of oral health education, language or cultural barriers, fear of dental care and the belief that people who are not in pain do not need care,” said the Oct. 24 letter signed by the ADA elected and staff leaders. “In light of the increasing body of knowledge of the interrelationships between oral health and overall health, the fact that poor oral health affects a broad segment of the population is especially troubling.

“The ADA is committed to breaking down these barriers and while we cannot support the legislation as currently written, there are a number of provisions in your legislation that we do support and look forward to working with you to implement.”

Sen. Sanders announced at a Sept. 12 Senate hearing on Dental Crisis in America: The Need to Address Cost that he would reintroduce dental legislation he offered in the last Congress. S. 1522 was introduced Sept. 18. No hearings had been scheduled at this writing.