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Action for Dental Health progresses in Senate

July 25, 2018

By Kelly Ganski

The ADA's Action for Dental Health Act unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions July 25, clearing the path for a vote in the full Senate.

Action for Dental Health is the ADA's nationwide, community-based movement aimed at enhancing ongoing efforts to reduce the barriers to oral health care facing many Americans. The ADA's next step is to lobby the Senate GOP leadership to get on the calendar for a floor vote. The House bill, led by Representatives Robin Kelly, D-IL, and Mike Simpson, R-ID, passed the House of Representatives in February. It was introduced in the Senate June 6 by Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., Bill Cassidy R-La., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Tim Scott, R-S.C.

"As a physician, I know that dental care is crucial to overall health. Untreated dental disease leads to millions of dollars in preventable dental-related ER visits each year," said Sen. Cassidy. "Action for Dental Health expands the reach of existing community based programs which screen, treat and educate underserved populations connecting patients to dentists who can continue to treat them down the road."

"Oral health is an important part of one's overall health and well-being, but many people lack access to these essential services — especially those from underserved communities," said Sen. Booker. "This legislation takes a vital step in addressing those gaps and increasing families' access to oral health care and preventive services."

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.

"The Action for Dental Health Act will help Americans improve essential oral health care for low-income and other underserved individuals by breaking down barriers to care," ADA President Joseph P. Crowley said in June. "It will also help organizations qualify for oral health grants to develop and expand programs that establish dental homes for children, adults, the elderly, blind and disabled at no extra burden to taxpayers."

For more information about the ADA's Action for Dental Health initiative, visit ADA.org/en/advocacy/advocacy-issues/action-for-dental-health-act.