Bipartisan Dental Health Bill Passes House, Heads to President’s DeskDecember 3, 2018, 8:14 AM HST (Updated December 3, 2018, 8:14 AM)
After passing the House of Representatives on last week, bipartisan legislation to improve access to dental health services will head to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Sens. Mazie K. Hirono, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced the legislation, the Action for Dental Health Act of 2018, in June. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent in October.
“Dental health is critical to overall health outcomes, but far too many individuals and families in Hawai‘i are unable to access the dental care they need,” Sen. Hirono said. “I thank my Senate and House colleagues for supporting the Action for Dental Health Act, which will expand access to critical dental care services, especially in rural and underserved communities. By increasing access to regular and preventive care for the people of Hawaii, we can avoid more serious health outcomes down the road.”
“Expanding access to oral health in underserved communities is critically important for Hawai‘i,” said Hawai‘i Dental Association President Dr. Robert Baysa. “Hawai‘i keiki have consistently lagged in key measures of oral health. We are encouraged that this legislation will make a difference.”
“Oral health is an important part of overall health and well-being, but many individuals—especially those from underserved communities—lack access to dental health essential services,” Sen. Booker said. “This bipartisan bill is a meaningful step toward increasing families’ access to oral health treatment and preventive services. I’m grateful to my partners in Congress for their bipartisan leadership on this important issue.”
“Dental health and oral care are important facets of overall health. The zip code you are born in shouldn’t affect your access to good care and education,” Sen. Scott said. “I am glad that both houses of Congress have passed the Action for Dental Health Act and look forward to it being signed into law. I have no doubt that this will positively impact those in underserved communities.”
“Soon this bill will be signed into law by President Trump, giving underserved communities and disadvantaged patients better access to oral health care and education,” Dr. Cassidy said. “I’m proud to have worked on a bipartisan basis to pass this bill.”
The legislation will create the Action for Dental Health Program, which seeks to improve oral health by increasing prevention and reducing barriers to dental services, particularly for underserved rural and urban communities in order to reach vulnerable populations. The Action for Dental Health Act also expands a grant program to encourage states to strengthen their oral health workforce in areas of need.
The Senate’s companion bill in the House, H.R. 2422, was introduced by Representatives Robin Kelly (D-Illinois) and Mike Simpson, DMD (R-Idaho). America’s leading dental health organizations support the Action for Dental Health Act, including the American Dental Association, the National Dental Association, American Dental Education Association, Academy of General Dentistry, Oral Health America, American Association of Women Dentists, and several other groups.