ADA issues statement on dental provisions in reauthorization bill

Aug. 7, 2007
ADA seeks to ensure access to dental care for children in need.

WASHINGTON--With the enactment of the State Children's Health Insurance Program 10 years ago, the federal government made a promise to provide health care to millions of children in families just above the federal poverty line.

The American Dental Association is proud to stand with members of the Maryland congressional delegation who have made the ADA's cause--ensuring access to dental care for children in need--its cause.

This effort comes too late for Deamonte Driver, the Maryland boy who died earlier this year from complications apparently stemming from untreated dental disease, but it is our obligation to prevent similar tragedies. The House-passed SCHIP reauthorization bill, by including a dental benefit guarantee in SCHIP, is a good first step in that direction.

Emphasis on prevention
While some people want to focus on the cost of this bill, we want to emphasize that devoting resources to preventive dental care for children is one of the best investments that the government can make. Without access to regular preventive dental services, dental care for many children is postponed until problems like toothache and abscesses become so acute that care is sought in hospital emergency departments.

One recent study estimated that, on average, the cost to manage symptoms associated with dental problems in an emergency room was approximately 10 times as expensive as normal preventive treatment. Clearly, the guarantee of dental coverage in the House-passed SCHIP legislation makes sound fiscal sense.

The ADA pledges to continue working with the House, Senate and Administration to ensure that SCHIP recognizes the importance of dental health as a part of overall health.

For more information about the ADA, visit the Association's Web site at American Dental Association.