Congress finalizes Action for Dental Health legislation
Washington — The Action for Dental Health Act, legislation aimed at improving oral health and access to oral health care, passed Congress Nov. 28.
The bill will next head to President Donald J. Trump's desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.
The ADA, which has championed the Action for Dental Health initiative since 2014, applauded the bill's passage.
"This is a tremendous victory for dentistry and patients everywhere," said ADA President Jeffrey M. Cole. "The Action for Dental Health initiative shows what our profession stands for, which is that all Americans deserve good dental health. The ADA is pleased to see Congress prioritizing legislation that will improve access to oral health care and help prevention and outreach programs to combat dental disease before it starts."
The legislation, originally introduced by Reps. Robin Kelly, D-Ill, and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, passed the House in February. In October it passed the Senate, where it was sponsored by Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Tim Scott, R-S.C.
By passing the bill, the Action for Dental Health Act will allow organizations to qualify for oral health grants to support activities that improve oral health education and dental disease prevention. It will also enable groups to develop and expand outreach programs that facilitate establishing dental homes for children and adults, including the elderly, blind and disabled.
“This bipartisan bill means that more families will have access to oral and dental health care,” said Rep. Kelly in a statement. “This increased access to care means that patients will receive early detection and intervention resulting in better outcomes, reduced costs and improved health.”
“With today’s passage of Action for Dental Health, we are sending a message that oral health is a priority for Congress,” said Rep Simpson, adding. “Ultimately, the real winners are patients who need improved access to resources to enhance early diagnosis, intervention and preventive treatments which can stop the progress of oral diseases.”
Specifically, the legislation is designed to:
- Improve oral health education and dental disease prevention.
- Reduce the use of emergency rooms for dental care.
- Help patients establish dental homes.
- Reduce barriers, including language barriers and cultural barriers, to receiving care.
- Facilitate dental care to nursing home residents.