Academy supports Cover the Uninsured Week

April 24, 2007
Academy also releases State Children's Health Insurance Program position paper.

CHICAGO--The Academy of General Dentistry has announced that it has become a National Supporter of the 2007 Cover the Uninsured Week that takes place April 23-29.

"We are extremely excited and proud to support this event," said AGD President Bruce R. DeGinder, DDS, MAGD. "It is even more relevant for general dentists this year because of the focus on the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program and the need to cover America's uninsured children--one of the AGD's top legislative goals this year."

In conjunction with the events being held nationwide during this week, the AGD has also released its SCHIP position paper. As SCHIP faces reauthorization by Congress this year, the AGD calls for important changes to the program that will help to ensure children have access to essential dental care. There are more than nine million children without medical insurance and as many as 20 million without dental insurance.

Additionally, four to five million children in America suffer from a dental disease that limits their ability to lead normal and pain-free lives. More than 850,000 school days are missed each year by children who are affected by dental pain.

"We must drastically reduce these numbers," Dr. DeGinder asserted. "We owe
it to our children, and that is what our recommended changes to SCHIP will do."

The SCHIP was authorized by Congress in 1997 to expand public health care
availability to low-income children and families. At that time, SCHIP gave $40 billion to states for 10 years to provide coverage for children living in families who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance. Today, this successful program covers more than six million children.

"While this program been extremely successful over the last decade," stated
Janet Kopenhaver, AGD's Washington lobbyist "there still is much work to be
done and essential changes to be made to the program to ensure that dental
coverage continues to be included and expanded. Because the program must be reauthorized this year, it is an appropriate time to include these changes in the reauthorizing legislation," Kopenhaver advised.

According the position paper being released today, AGD calls on legislators to include the following changes to the SCHIP to ensure all children have access to oral health care services:

* Support Ongoing Outreach Efforts to Enroll All Eligible Children in SCHIP: More than nine million children remain uninsured, and nearly two-thirds of those children are currently eligible but not enrolled in SCHIP. Dental outreach initiatives are essential.

* Require Reliable Data Reporting in Dental Care in SCHIP: Only eight states currently provide any information on their SCHIP dental program and little is known about dental programs performance nationally. Without sufficient and consistent data, it is not possible to evaluate the impact or effectiveness of SCHIP dental benefits.

* Establish a Federal Guarantee for Dental Coverage in SCHIP: All states have recognized that poor oral health affects children's general health and provide dental coverage. However, this coverage is often the first benefit cut when states experience funding shortfalls. Congress can ensure dental care for children by establishing dental coverage in SCHIP.

* Develop a Dental Wrap-Around Benefit in SCHIP: Children who receive medical benefits through their parents' insurance are not eligible for dental coverage through SCHIP, even if they meet the income and other eligibility standards. Congress should alter the program so that it allows for children's supplemental dental coverage when their parents are covered by employers.

For more information about the AGD, visit Academy of General Dentistry.