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Congress considers Action for Dental Health bill

January 27, 2015

By Craig Palmer

photo of Rep. Simpson
Rep. Simpson

Rep. Kelly
– Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., joined by dentist Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho as the lead Republican co-sponsor, introduced legislation Jan. 27 to authorize oral health grants "to improve essential oral health care for lower income individuals by breaking down barriers to care."

The Action for Dental Health Act of 2015, H.R. 539, would authorize Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grants to support volunteer dental projects and collaborative initiatives to accomplish any of the following goals:

  • To improve oral health education and dental disease prevention, including community-wide prevention programs, use of dental sealants and fluoride varnish and increasing oral health literacy;
  • To make the health care delivery system providing dental services more accessible and efficient through the development and expansion of outreach programs that will facilitate the establishment of dental homes for children and adults, including the aged, blind and disabled populations;
  • To reduce geographic, language, cultural and similar barriers in the provision of dental services;
  • To help reduce the use of emergency departments by those who seek dental services more appropriately delivered in a dental primary care setting, and
  • To facilitate the provision of dental care to nursing home residents who are disproportionately affected by lack of care.

The legislation also would authorize CDC grants with eligible entities to obtain portable or mobile dental equipment and pay for appropriate operational costs and for the provision of free dental services to underserved populations that are delivered in a manner consistent with state licensing laws.

Entities eligible for the volunteer project grants could include a state or local dental association, state oral health program, dental education, dental hygiene education or postdoctoral dental education program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, and a community-based organization that partners with a tax exempt academic institution that offers a free dental services program for underserved populations.