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House passes Action for Dental Health bill

February 27, 2018

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — With a vote of 387-13 in favor, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Action for Dental Health Act of 2017 on Feb. 26.

The bill, H.R. 2422, was introduced last year by Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and calls for Congress "to amend the Public Health Service Act to improve essential oral health care for low-income and other underserved individuals by breaking down barriers to care, and for other purposes."

In an action alert sent to ADA members, ADA President Joseph P. Crowley, called the legislation's passage, "a huge victory for dentistry and patients everywhere."

"The ADA's Action for Dental Health initiative shows what our profession stands for," Dr. Crowley said. "All Americans deserve good dental health and this bill helps fund programs that combat dental disease before it starts. The ADA will continue to support ways to break down barriers and increase the options for people to obtain dental care.

Action for Dental Health is the ADA's nationwide, community-based movement aimed at ending the dental health crisis in America. With the passage of the Action for Dental Health Act, the ADA hopes the legislation will lead to:

  • improving oral health education and dental disease prevention.
  • reducing the use of emergency rooms for dental care.
  • helping patients establish dental homes.
  • reducing barriers, including language barriers and cultural barriers, to receiving care.
  • facilitating dental care to nursing home residents.

During 40 minutes of floor debate, Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, urged his fellow members to vote for the ADH Act, saying, "The lack of basic oral health services in some communities today leads many Americans to delay treatment to the point that the pain is so severe they rush to the emergency room, where they receive expensive treatment for common dental issues."   

Rep. Mike Burgess, R-Texas, who is also a physician, agreed, saying, "Good oral health is an important component of good overall health. And this bill takes important steps to help improve the dental care in underserved communities."

The ADA is working with Senators to take action on this legislation.

For more information about the ADA's Action for Dental Health initiative, visit ADA.org.