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HRSA designates $85 million to expanding oral health services in health centers

September 18, 2019 Washington — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration announced Sept. 18 an $85-million effort to expand oral health services at 298 health centers.

The investments, which the agency called “first of their kind,” will focus on oral health infrastructure and will enable HRSA-funded health centers to “provide new, or enhance existing, oral health services,” HRSA said in a news release.

“Health centers play a key role in providing access to a comprehensive range of services Americans need to stay healthy, and that includes high-quality oral health care,” said Alex Azar, HHS secretary. “Early detection of oral diseases can prevent much more costly health challenges and improve Americans’ health, which is the ultimate goal of President Trump’s vision for our health care system. These are the first awards HRSA has ever made solely for health centers’ oral health care infrastructure, and they will support better access to oral health services in communities across the country, including underserved urban and rural areas.”

According to HRSA, each health center will receive $300,000 for modernizing existing facilities, installing dental and radiology equipment, and increasing oral health integration. The centers may also use the funds to purchase mobile dental units to increase access to oral health care in communities.

“Access to high-quality, integrated oral health care is essential to the early detection of oral diseases, which are critical to preventing future, often costly, health issues,” said Tom Engels, acting HRSA administrator. “These awards, which are the first of their kind, will help health centers tackle limitations in infrastructure, such as outdated equipment and insufficient space, and improve access to integrated, oral health services in primary care settings in communities across the country.”

To see a list of award recipients, visit HRSA.gov.