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Dental groups ask Congress to support faculty loan repayment

Bill could encourage more dentists to participate in federal program

December 04, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Dental Education Association are urging lawmakers to support legislation that would allow full-time educators participating in the Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program to exclude from their federal income taxes the amount of the loan forgiveness received from this program.

In a Nov. 29 letter submitted to the House Ways and Means Committee, the groups said they believe HR 996, the Dental Loan Repayment Assistance Act, if enacted, would help address training of dentists to provide care in underserved communities and to underserved populations. The comments were in response to a call for input from the committee’s Rural and Underserved Communities Health Task Force, which is charged with improving health care in those communities.

“The [Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program] was created to help recruit qualified faculty at accredited dental schools and approved residency and advanced education programs in general, pediatric or public health dentistry,” wrote ADA, AAPD and ADEA. “A critical factor in recruiting and retaining dental school faculty is the staggering level of student loan debt and income disparity with private practice.”

The groups pointed out that in its first three years of funding, the faculty loan repayment program is “already making a real impact in recruiting and retaining dental faculty” and noted this is important for oral health in rural and underserved communities since dental schools and residency programs provide direct clinical care to such populations by serving Medicaid patients and also offering community-based training sites outside of the dental school and hospital.

“Dedicated faculty are critical to such outreach, ensuring that dental trainees are experienced in treating underserved populations and are highly motivated to continue to do so in their professional practice,” they wrote. “Dental faculty also help their trainees access resources such as the National Health Service Corps and state loan forgiveness programs for practice in underserved communities.”

Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts at ADA.org/advocacy.