Both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate passed the “cromnibus” bill earlier this month, which was proposed by the Departments of Labor, Health & Human Service and Education and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2015. The accompanying report included four areas that addressed oral health — items that are highlighted below.
Alternative Dental Health Providers — While the agreement continues to carry bill language that prohibits the use of funds for alternative dental health care provider demonstration projects, this language is not intended to prohibit or preclude a state’s ability to independently develop policies to increase patient access to dental care in underserved areas in order to address the unique needs and demands of that state.
Oral Health in the Emergency Room — The report addresses the number of unnecessary emergency room visits due to a lack of dental providers in rural communities, citing a significant need for oral health care and oral health education in these communities. The Office of Rural Health Policy is encouraged to support mobile dentistry programs led by properly licensed dental providers.
Division of Oral Health — The agreement supports the Department of Health (DOH) for needed enhancements to state oral health infrastructure grants, national surveillance activities and community prevention programs, and urges the DOH to support clinical and public health interventions that target pregnant women and young children at highest risk for dental caries. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is encouraged to work across the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the coordination of oral health surveillance in a manner that reliably measures and reports health outcomes.
Dental Caries — While dental caries have significantly decreased for most Americans over the past four decades, disparities remain among some population groups. The agreement encourages the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to explore more opportunities related to dental caries research, and coordinate with CDC’s Division of Oral Health to identify research opportunities.
Source: American Dental Hygienists’ Association