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ADA thanks lawmakers for Health Enterprise Zones Act

Bill aims to help improve health disparities in minority and underserved communities

August 11, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA is praising two members of the House of Representatives for introducing legislation to improve health disparities in minority and underserved communities.

In an Aug. 4 letter to Reps. Anthony Brown, D-Md., and Steny Hoyer, D-Md., ADA President Chad P. Gehani and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin expressed support for HR 7158, the Health Enterprise Zones Act.

“The recent public health crisis has underscored the systemic inequalities in our health care system that severely impact populations along racial and geographic lines,” Drs. Gehani and O’Loughlin wrote. “Many of the provisions in the Health Enterprise Zones Act are essential to the goal of ensuring that every community receives access to the quality and affordable health care they deserve, including oral health care.”

They noted that more than 47 million people in the U.S. live in areas with limited access to dental care, citing data from the Health Resources and Services Administration, and said the Health Enterprise Zones Act would “help break down the barriers to care through a suite of federal incentives to ensure that providers are meeting the preventive and acute care needs of underserved communities.”

“Attracting more dentists to underserved communities would also help expand oral health education and prevention and establish a permanent dental home for patients to receive both routine and complex care,” Drs. Gehani and O’Loughlin added.

The ADA supports the following incentives proposed in the Health Enterprise Zones Act:

• A work opportunity credit for hiring Health Enterprise Zone Workers.
• A tax credit for Qualified Health Enterprise Zone Workers.
• Grant programs to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes in Health Enterprise Zones.
• A student loan repayment program for eligible providers, including dentists, practicing in Health Enterprise Zones.

Drs. Gehani and O’Loughlin also said the Health Enterprise Zone Act aligns with ADA’s investments in oral health equity through the Association’s Action for Dental Health, a national initiative to improve oral health education and prevent dental disease. The Action for Dental Health Act became law in 2018.

“The incentives outlined in the Health Enterprise Zones Act amplify the ADA’s commitment to help all Americans attain their best oral health,” the letter concluded.

For more information about the ADA’s advocacy efforts during COVID-19, visit ADA.org/COVID19Advocacy.