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Dental groups ask Congress for increased funding for CDC, HRSA, NIDCR

April 01, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Gavel iconWashington — The ADA, American Dental Education Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Association for Dental Research are urging Congress to increase funding in 2020 for initiatives important to dentistry and the nation's oral health.

In letters sent March 27 to the House and Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on Appropriations, the four organizations asked lawmakers to prioritize the nation's oral health as they prepare the Labor-HHS-Education-Appropriations bill.

"Dental access, education, prevention, care and research initiatives are leading to improved oral health across the country," they wrote. "The modest programmatic increases we are requesting, together with the continuation of programs, will allow more Americans to have access to improved oral health care."

One of the groups' top requests is to increase funding for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a branch of the National Institutes of Health. Currently, President Donald J. Trump's budget proposes $397 million for the agency in 2020, down from $461.8 million in 2019. The dental groups are asking for $492 million, noting that any cuts would undermine the "research and advancements to improve oral and overall health for all Americans."

"Investments in NIDCR-funded research during the past half-century have led to improvements in oral health for millions of Americans and continue to show promise in areas encompassing pain biology and management, regenerative medicine, and in assessing the efficacy of a human papilloma virus vaccine for oral and pharyngeal cancers," the groups wrote.

For the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they pointed out that the agency's Division of Oral Health is a "much needed (and highly valued) source of support for state health departments to help reduce oral health disparities" and used community water fluoridation, school-based dental sealant programs and oral health literacy programs as success stories.

The organizations also singled out the Action for Dental Health Act, which became law in 2018. The ADH initiative "will allow CDC's Division of Oral Health and HRSA to expand their roles in dental disease prevention, education, and continuity of care in underserved communities."

For 2020, the groups are asking for $25 million, up from $19 million in 2019.

For oral health training programs, including Title VII general and pediatric dental residency programs within the Health Resources and Services Administration, the groups asked for a total of $40.7 million. All workforce training programs were left off the president's budget for 2020.

They urged lawmakers to continue funding the residency programs, pointing out that they provide primary oral health care services in some of the nation's most remote and underserved locations.

The groups also noted that in 2019, grantees of Title VII funding trained 5,291 dental and dental hygiene students in predoctoral training degree programs; 460 dental residents and fellows in advanced primary care dental residency and fellowship training programs; and 1,180 dental faculty members in faculty development activities.

Other funding requests included:

  • $40 million for Area Health Education Centers.
  • $18 million for HRSA's Ryan White Part F Dental Programs.
  • $15 million for HRSA's Health Careers Opportunity Program.
  • $5.25 million for HRSA's Maternal Child Health Special Projects of Regional and National Significance program.

"We understand the difficult task you face as you put together the FY 2020 Labor-HHS-Education-Appropriations bill in the current environment of tight budget constraints, and we greatly appreciate your consideration of our requests," the letter concluded.

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