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ADA thanks committee for addressing oral health needs in American Indian, Alaska Native populations

June 13, 2018

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — In continuing efforts to improve the oral health of American Indians and Alaska Natives, the ADA is urging Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen the Indian Health Service's efforts in creating a centralized credentialing system.

"Streamlining the credentialing process will help fill dental vacancies with quality health care professionals in a timely, efficient manner," wrote ADA President Joseph P. Crowley and Executive Director Kathleen T. O'Loughlin in a June 13 letter to the House Committee on Natural Resources and Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs. The Association was writing the committee to offer thanks for their support of HR 5874, the Restoring Accountability in the Indian Health Service Act of 2018. The ADA also worked to ensure report language was added to the bill to streamline and improve the credentialing process. During the committee hearing on the bill, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who is also an ADA member and dentist, urged his fellow legislators to make volunteer credentialing as easy as possible so that more dentists will be able to volunteer.

"Many of our dentists are more than willing to help address the oral health care needs of the American Indian and Alaska Native populations, however, streamlining the credentialing process is necessary to facilitate those efforts," wrote Drs. Crowley and O'Loughlin, adding that the ADA "appreciate[s] the committee's strong commitment to improving the oral health care of Native Americans."

"Having more dentists available to provide care will greatly enhance access to oral health services through the utilization of existing resources," Drs. Crowley and O'Loughlin concluded. "We believe HR 5874 is crucial to both centralizing the credentialing process and working towards a less burdensome privileging process, which will encourage providers to serve in Native American communities."

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