Project applauds oral health-care provisions in health reform legislation

April 13, 2010
New law provides millions of American children with access to dental care.

WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Children's Dental Health Project has applauded the dental health-care provisions that were recently enacted as part of the health- care reform legislation signed into law by President Obama.

The provisions contained in the legislation represent an investment in the oral health of Americans, especially children.

Deemed by the U.S. Surgeon General a "silent epidemic," dental disease remains the most common childhood disease. It disproportionately affects low-income families who lack access to adequate care.

The provisions contained in the health-care reform legislation expand access to dental care for children and families and seek to strengthen the oral health of Americans while working to promote early and effective prevention.

"Good oral health is essential to good overall health," said U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, who helped lead the effort to include dental provisions in the legislation.

"This new law will help ensure that millions more Americans have access to dental care. This represents a major improvement to our nation's health-care safety net."

Added Dr. Burton Edelstein, founding chair of the Children's Dental Health Project: "With this legislation, and the historic CHIP reforms passed last year, millions more children are now assured of dental coverage and access to dental care. We have ensured that children's dental coverage is as important as their medical coverage."

Among the provisions directed specifically at improving America's oral health are:

* Expanded coverage. An investment in ensuring access to public and private dental coverage for children in America.

* Prevention. Dental disease prevention initiatives, including public education, school-based sealant programs in all 50 states and research grants to improve the prevention and management of tooth decay in young children.

* Tracking and monitoring. Resources for the Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies to assess American's oral health and dental care with a special emphasis on pregnant women.

* Workforce development. Expanded education of dental professionals and those who train and educate future dental caregivers in rural areas and among underserved populations. Grants to allow study options for new dental care providers.

* Safety net improvements. Support for dental programs in school-based and community-based health centers. Creation of a new commission to study oral health-care workforce capacity.

* Infrastructure improvements. Support for states to bolster their dental public health programs through leadership development, oral health data collection and interpretation, and best use of science to improve oral health.

* Medicaid and CHIP. Expands Medicaid coverage and increases the federal government's contribution to Medicaid in all states, extends the CHIP program for five years, and addresses payment to dentists and other healthcare professionals through the Medicaid and CHIP Access and Payment Commission.

For additional information, visit Children's Dental Health Project.

To read more about the CDHP, go to Children's Dental Health Project.

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