U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) introduced the Action for Dental Health Act of 2015 (H.R. 539), a bill to support efforts nationwide to improve the dental health of underserved people.
The bill takes its name from the American Dental Association's Action for Dental Health, a nationwide, community-based movement to deliver care people already suffering with dental disease, strengthen and expand the public/private safety net and bring dental health education and disease prevention into underserved communities.
The bill would support the types of initiatives identified by the ADA as having the greatest impact on dental access, including:
To learn more about the ADA's Action for Dental Health movement, watch the video below:
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“Regular visits to the dentist do more than keep your smile attractive – they can tell a lot about your overall health, including whether or not you may be developing a disease like diabetes or if you’re at risk for a stroke,” Kelly said. “Our bill helps to create healthier communities by breaking down barriers to oral healthcare and will ultimately help reduce unnecessary healthcare costs by minimizing and eliminating dental diseases in their early stages.”
, a dentist, joined Rep. Kelly as lead Republican cosponsor.
"We're delighted that these bipartisan members of Congress understand the need for action and are supporting us in this ambitious undertaking," ADA President Dr. Maxine Feinberg said. "Dentists across the country are taking up this challenge with renewed determination. But we can't do this alone. We need everyone with a stake in a healthier nation to join us."
The Action for Dental Health Act will allow organizations to qualify for HHS oral health grants to support activities that improve oral health education and dental disease prevention, including developing and expanding outreach programs that will facilitate establishing dental homes for children and adults, including the elderly, blind and disabled.
"This bill adds no additional burden to taxpayers," Dr. Feinberg said. "Rather, it will redirect existing resources to the kinds of programs that are already proven to reduce and eliminate the barriers that prevent millions of Americans from achieving good oral health."
Dr. Feinberg pledged the ADA's full effort to build support for and ultimately pass this bill.
"Representatives Kelly and Simpson are stepping up for the nation's oral health," Dr. Feinberg said. "The 158,000 members of the American Dental Association will do everything possible to help them pass this bill into law."
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.