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AAPD Continues Advocacy for Children’s Oral Health Provisions as Congress Grapples with ACA Repeal and Replace Proposals

As AAPD members were alerted in a special E-News blast, Republican leadership of the U.S. Senate released its health care reform proposal on June 22, 2017. The AAPD has been advocating to Congress since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to improve provisions in that law to enhance children’s oral health coverage. See:

On June 9, 2017, the AAPD joined the ADA and over 40 other national associations or organizations to highlight key priorities in 2017 health care reform legislation. Specifically, the letter emphasizes the importance of the Medicaid guarantee of Early and Periodic Screening, Di- agnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) for children’s dental coverage, and retaining children’s pediatric oral health care as an essential health benefit.

On June 26, 2017, the AAPD joined a coalition of dental organizations writing to key Senate and House committee chairs and ranking mem- bers (Senators Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.) with a copy to the Senate Majority Leader (Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.) and Minority Leader (Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.) asking that the pediatric oral health essential health benefit provision in the ACA be retained. Below is the full text of that letter:

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

On behalf of the organizations listed below that represent dentists, allied dental professionals, dental educators and dental and craniofacial researchers, we write to respectfully request that as the Senate considers changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the pediatric oral health provision is retained.

Often overlooked is the fact that good oral care is inextricably linked to good overall systemic well-being. And unfortunately dental caries, although largely preventable, remains the most common chronic disease of children aged 6 to 11 years of age. In fact, tooth decay is four times more common than asthma among adolescents aged 14 to 17 years of age, and is the number one disease of child- hood.

There is an undeniable unmet need of pediatric oral health care in America. Approximately 23 percent of children ages 2 to 11 have unmet dental care needs and the situation is even worse among children from lower income families.1 In some cases of untreated tooth decay, the results can be fatal. The tragic case of 12-year-old Deamonte Driver from Prince Georges County, Maryland, who succumbed to an untreated abscessed tooth, is just one example.

Given that tooth decay is the number one disease of childhood, we are asking that pediatric oral health care be made a priority in any legislation to replace the ACA. As health professionals, we are acutely aware that there are competing health interests to consider in the process, but the necessity for pediatric dental care is so profound, we do not believe it can or should be discounted. Instead, we believe it should remain a priority in any health care reform legislation.

We stand ready and willing to be a resource on this issue or any other that affects oral health and the delivery of care.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
American Dental Association
American Dental Education Association
Academy of General Dentistry
American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
American Academy of Periodontology
American Association for Dental Research
American Association of Orthodontists
American Association of Women Dentists
American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists
National Dental Association
Oral Health America

1The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2004

For further information see: care_reform_proposal/.

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