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ADA, others urge appropriators to support oral health

June 15, 2017

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA, American Dental Education Association, American Association for Dental Research and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry are asking Congress to support programs "vital to dentistry and oral health" as legislators review funding for fiscal year 2018.

In a June 13 joint letter to the Senate and House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittees, the groups urged Congress to prioritize dental access, prevention, care and research initiatives that lead to improved oral health outcomes as appropriators make their final budget recommendations for 2018.

In May, President Trump released his budget for 2018, which recommended cuts to many programs, including more than $105 million in cuts to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The budget also zeroed out the Health Resources and Services Administration's Title VII general and pediatric dental residencies. Other HRSA programs that did not receive funding include the Dental Loan Faculty Repayment, Area Health Education Centers and the Health Careers Opportunity Program.

The stakeholders said the president's budget proposal could have "serious repercussions" for oral health access and research, and in response to President Trump's claim that residency training programs for pediatric and general dentistry haven't demonstrated a "significant impact" on the effectiveness of the oral health workforce, noted that in 2015-2016, oral health training programs helped train "3,835 dental and dental hygiene students in pre-doctoral training, 435 primary care dental residents and fellows, and 946 dental faculty members in faculty development."

They also stressed that the "unprecedented" 20 percent cut in the National Institutes of Health budget would "dramatically reduce the effectiveness of our nation's premier health research facility.

"As an independent agency within NIH, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is the largest institution in the world dedicated exclusively to research to improve dental, oral and craniofacial health."

In addition to the letter, the stakeholders included a table delineating specific funding requests for 2018. The table included funding requests for NIDCR, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Oral Health and HRSA as well as funding to keep HRSA Title VII General and Pediatric dental residencies and the Dental faculty loan repayment in place.

"The modest programmatic increases we are requesting, together with the continuation of programs the president has proposed to eliminate, will allow more Americans to have access to improved oral health care," the stakeholders wrote.

The letter was sent to Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Ranking Member Patty Murray, S-Wash., and House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.

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