ADEA Washington Update

Congress Passes Omnibus Funding Bill; Academic Dentistry Fares Well

(Funding, Advocacy, House, Senate, HHS, Education, Dental Health, NIH, NIDCR, Opioid Abuse, Oral Health, Prescription Drug Abuse) Permanent link   All Posts

The FY18 federal budget has been finalized and signed into law. Dental programs fared well in the budget, thanks to the hard work of everyone who attended ADEA’s Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, those who responded in a timely fashion to our Action Alerts, and the efforts of the ADEA Advocacy and Government Relations staff. Together, we made it clear to Congress the value of these programs for improving the overall health of the public.

ADEA was pleased to see a $175 per student increase to the maximum Pell Grant award, an increase in funding for child care on campus and protection for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Unfortunately, despite promises from legislators on both sides of the aisle, the bill does not include an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

A memorandum on the ADEA Advocacy site details the provisions in the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2018. Below are a few key programs: 

  • Oral health training programs—$40.7 million ($4 million more than FY17).
  • National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research—$447.7 million ($22 million more than FY17).
  • Health Careers Opportunity Program—$14.2 million (same as FY17)
  • Dental Reimbursement Program—$13.1 million (same as FY17).

The Omnibus contains billions in federal funds to address opioid abuse, including a long-sought change to a health workforce development program.  The bill provides $3.6 billion for various programs at the Health and Human Services Department related to opioid addiction and abuse, which represents a $2.6 billion increase over FY17.

Most of that money will go to states for addiction treatment programs. However, advocates say simply putting more money behind treatment programs will not do much good until there are more facilities with trained medical professionals to provide those services. Approximately 3.8 million people in the United States received treatment for illicit drug or alcohol abuse in 2016, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In the same year, approximately 11.8 million people said they had misused prescription opioids or used heroin. An additional 5 million reported using cocaine, and 1.4 million used methamphetamine. There were also roughly 16 million people who reported frequent binge drinking in 2016, though that number likely overlaps with people who reported drug use.

To encourage medical professionals to practice in areas where they are most needed, HRSA, through the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), will pay up to $50,000 in student loans for those willing to work for two years at an approved site.  Many doctors, dentists and mental-health providers are eligible for the loan repayment. 

The NHSC, which had $289 million in FY17, received a $105 million increase “to expand and improve access to quality opioid and substance use disorder treatment in rural and underserved areas nationwide.” Within that amount, $30 million is specifically for rural communities.  Loan forgiveness is predicated on working at a qualified facility, and facilities that only provide addiction-treatment services are not eligible to participate.

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