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Advocacy and Government Relations — June 2013

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Every congressional session ADEA sends written testimony, for the record, to the appropriations committees in Congress. The purpose is to delineate and emphasize funding for programs of importance to dental education and dental and craniofacial research, and to ensure access to oral health care for the health and well-being of the nation. This year was no exception. On May 6, 2013, ADEA sent testimony to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies regarding funding for Title VII, Health Professions Programs; the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, Part F, Dental Reimbursement Program (DRP); and continued funding for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

Given the critical role Title VII programs play in ensuring a healthy and diverse pipeline of future oral health providers, ADEA requested $32 million. The goal of Title VII programs is to motivate health care professionals to practice in underserved communities with the help of programs like the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), Centers of Excellence (COE), and Minority Faculty Fellowship Program (MFFP). Also, Title VII Pediatric Dentistry and General Dentistry residency programs have positively influenced the diversity of the dental pipeline while addressing an area of oral health care provider shortage. Lastly, Title VII funds assist dental schools in expanding access while providing students and residents with the innovative training they need to serve multi-dimensional communities.

As part of training for dental students and providing service to an underserved population, ADEA requested $15 million for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, Part F, DRP. The program provides access to quality dental care for people living with HIV/AIDS while simultaneously providing education and training to dental residents, dental, and dental hygiene students who deliver the care. DRP is a cost-effective federal/institutional partnership that provides partial reimbursement to academic dental institutions for costs incurred in providing dental care to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Also, ADEA requested $450 million in funding for NIDCR. Dental research is the underpinning of the profession of dentistry. Discoveries stemming from dental research have reduced the burden of oral diseases, led to better oral health for millions of Americans, and uncovered important associations between oral and systemic health. Dental researchers are poised to make breakthroughs that can result in dramatic progress in medicine and health, such as repairing natural form and function to faces destroyed by disease, accident, or war injuries; diagnosing systemic diseases from saliva instead of blood samples; and deciphering the complex interactions and causes of oral health disparities involving social, economic, cultural, environmental, racial, ethnic, and biological factors.

ADEA advocated to Congress that support for these programs will help ensure that there will be an adequate oral health care workforce and continued cutting-edge research to benefit the overall health and well-being of the country.

For more information on legislative activities at the federal and state levels, see the current issues of AGR’s ADEA Washington Update and ADEA State Update.

Duggan Dental