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ADA supports Doctors of Community Act

Bill would expand Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program

July 09, 2021

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA is supporting new legislation that would permanently extend and expand the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program.

In July 6 letters to the House and Senate, ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, D.M.D., thanked the lawmakers for introducing HR 3671 and S 1958, the Doctors of Community Act, or DOC Act.

“The ADA strongly supports efforts to increase the dental workforce, especially in underserved communities and populations, through support for new and expanded dental residency programs,” Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin said.

Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin explained that the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program trains dental and medical residents in “serving some of our country’s most vulnerable populations in community-based settings” such as federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics and tribal health centers.

“Permanent, dedicated funding would provide stability to teaching health centers and strengthen continuity of care in underserved communities,” they said.

If enacted, the bill would direct funding to expand existing Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education programs and create new programs and residency slots.

“The expansion would address both general health workforce shortages and the persistent disparities magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin said. “Because 59% of Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education training sites are in medically underserved communities, and research suggests that dentists and physicians are more likely to practice near the location of their training, this bill would likely increase access to care in these [communities] and lead to better health outcomes among populations experiencing oral health disparities.”

For more information on the ADA’s advocacy efforts, visit ADA.org/Advocacy.