June has proved to be an important month in the legislature of health care, and not only because of the much anticipated ruling from the Supreme Court on Obama’s Affordable Care Act in the coming weeks. Just yesterday, officials from the United States Senate and House of Representatives announced a new legislative effort to combat the rapidly growing dental care crisis in our country at a news conference on Capitol Hill. Joined by 37 supporting organizations, which included the American Public Health Association and the Children’s Dental Health Project, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) discussed the initiative, called The Comprehensive Dental Reform Act of 2012.
Senator Sanders admitted that this struggle would not be easy, as reported by Craig Palmer in the American Dental Association’s article, “Oral health legislation introduced in Congress.” The ADA is currently not an official supporter of the bill; however they do believe it’s headed in the right direction. Dr. William R. Calnon, the ADA president, claims the Association fully supports the intent and applauds the effort to ensure all Americans have access to good oral health care, but there are a few areas of disagreement that need to be discussed before full endorsement.
Representative Cummings stated that he would present the House with a similar bill. He told his audience that “this bill represents a promise to the American people that dental health will no longer be a privilege.” Recent studies have shown that the incidences of tooth decay in children are rapidly increasing and that the majority of the nation’s youth do not see a dentist regularly. With connections being established between good oral health and general well being, it’s as important as ever to be sure to visit your dentist bi-annually. The bill seeks to improve access to dental care by expanding the oral health workforce, integrating oral health into general health activities, and the use of technologies that allow for collaboration and communication between different sectors of the healthcare community. It’s encouraging to know that our elected officials in office are working hard in Washington to ensure the well being of every American is protected. It will be interesting to watch as this new bill makes its way into law.