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ADEA's Advocacy Update - Winter 2011

(Access, Advocacy, Leadership, Oral Health, Policy) Permanent link   All Posts

By the ADEA Center for Public Policy and Advocacy

The ADEA Center for Public Policy and Advocacy (ADEA CPPA) stays abreast of federal issues and events of interest to the academic dental and research communities. These are ADEA CPPA's current topics of interest:

  CDC Reverses Decision to Eliminate the Division of Oral Health 

Thanks to concerns raised by ADEA, the American Dental Association (ADA), and other oral health organizations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reversed its decision to downgrade the Division of Oral Health (DOH). On January 14, 2011, ADEA Executive Director Richard W. Valachovic wrote to CDC Director Thomas Frieden and stated that “we strongly believe that DOH’s role should be preserved and the division should not be placed under the Division of Adult and Community Health where the issue of oral health care will have to compete with other pressing health issues.” Furthermore, ADEA emphasized that “subsuming the DOH into the Division of Adult and Community Health may delay or interrupt the current agenda and momentum and lower the profile of the commitment to expanding and delivering oral health care to all segments of this nation’s population.”

Additionally, ADEA, the ADA, and other members of the oral health community asked Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID), one of two dentists in the U.S. House of Representatives, to intercede. On January 13, 2011, Representative Simpson wrote to Dr. Frieden and said that “the current organizational structure at the CDC, which includes a separate division focused solely on dental health, has greatly benefitted the dental community. . . to relegate the DOH into a sub-division with a larger public health division would be potentially damaging for the entire oral health community.” In the end, due to the combined efforts of the oral health community, the CDC reversed its decision.

 ADEA Comments on the Science Report on “Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards” 

On October 18, 2011, ADEA President Leo E. Rouse wrote to Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak, Principal Deputy Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH), regarding the findings contained in the report “Race, Ethnicity, and NIH Research Awards” by Ginther, et a, Science 333 6045 (19 August 2011). ADEA expressed great disappointment with the findings. According to the study, total applications from Asian or Pacific Islander, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian or Alaskan Native investigators were 21% of the total for NIH research grant opportunities. However, there were significant differences in award probability by race and ethnicity. The study indicated that compared to NIH R01 applications for Caucasian investigators, applications from Black or African American investigators were 13.2 percentage points less likely to be awarded, and those from Asian or Pacific Islander investigators were 3.9 percentage points less likely to be awarded.

ADEA wrote that “there must be a commitment to a fair and unbiased review process.” In light of the substantial projected increase in the minority population by the year 2020, ADEA stated that “steps must be taken to ensure inclusion of such a large segment of the population.” ADEA urged a redoubled effort to produce a robust pipeline of minority researchers, stating, “We must employ an aggressive strategy to help boost the number of minority scientists in proportion to the minority population of the country.” ADEA re-emphasized to the NIH that the Association stands ready and willing to assist in this effort.

 House Committee Moves Legislation that Includes the Emergency Dental Responder Act 

U.S. service members visit a Swazi orphanage in 2009. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army-Africa on Flickr via Creative Commons license)On November 16, 2011, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce reported on H.R. 2405, the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2011. The legislation can now move forward to be voted on in the House of Representatives.

The legislation includes a bill for which ADEA, the ADA, and the American Dental Student Association (ASDA) have advocated: H.R. 570, the Emergency Dental Responder Act. This bill, which was incorporated into H.R 2405, would include dentists and dental facilities in the federal disaster response framework. It names dental health facilities in the National Health Security Strategy provisions on medical preparedness and response and surge capacities. Additionally, it would include dental school clinics as entities where all-hazards public health and medical response training could take place.

Dentists and dental facilities are currently not specifically named in the federal laws that created the federal disaster response framework. The omission has led to an underutilization of the dental health workforce and has left dental clinics out of response plans. The legislation would clarify that dentists could volunteer as disaster response public health workers and that states could include dental professionals and dental facilities in their disaster response plan. The bill would encourage more collaboration between the dental community, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Defense to utilize all members of the health care community in developing the nation’s disaster response plan.

The legislation had passed as a stand-alone bill (H.R. 570) in the House on March 8, 2011. Unfortunately, the legislation has not moved in the Senate. It is expected that the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act will move forward in both the House and the Senate.

 ADEA Writes the Congressional Tri-Caucus Regarding Funding for Training for Diversity Programs 

On November 4, 2011, ADEA President Leo E. Rouse and the American Dental Association (ADA) wrote to the Chairs of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific Islander Caucus regarding the importance of Training for Diversity Programs contained in Title VII of the Public Service Act.

The letter was prompted by Chairman Denny Rehberg’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 3070), which proposed drastic cuts to three programs in the Training for Diversity programs in Title VII. The bill zeroes out the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) and Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS), and cuts the Centers of Excellence (COE) program by 50%. The programs have been invaluable in increasing the numbers of underrepresented minorities working in the health professions in the United States.

ADEA acknowledged that we are facing difficult fiscal challenges but emphasized that these programs are not optional—they are a necessary investment in the health and well-being of the nation. ADEA will continue to proactively engage Congress regarding the need for such programs.

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