Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), along with Congresswoman Dianne DeGette (D-CO) and Steve Stivers (R-OH) introduced the Coordination of Pro Bono Medically Recommended Dental Care Act. This bill will provide funding to organizations that help provide free dental care to low-income individuals.
"Every year low-income families are unable to receive the dental care they need to remain healthy, risking not just their smile but their overall health and wellbeing," said Senator Menendez. "It's shameful that access to dental care is not more readily available. I have introduced this bill so organizations dedicated to providing pro-bono, medically necessary dental care are able to focus more of their resources to treating patients in need."
"Far too many individuals who are eligible for public programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP lack the necessary resources to have access to quality dental care. If ignored, dental issues can have an adverse affect on individuals with other medical conditions, like diabetes," said DeGette. "This legislation will provide critical resources that will allow dentists to provide more pro bono care and avoid costs from future underlying health conditions."
"Everyone deserves access to dental care and this legislation will ensure that our underserved populations are getting the medical attention they need," Stivers said. "With around 18,000 dentists and oral health professionals willing to provide pro bono dental and oral care, we need to connect these dentists with those who need their services, and this legislation will help accomplish that goal."
"We applaud Senator Menendez for supporting this legislation," American Dental Association President Robert Faiella, DMD, MMSc. "Its passage will help dentists provide free care to low-income patients with complex health problems who otherwise might never get it. People with diabetes, cancer, autoimmune disorders, kidney disease or who need joint or organ transplants will enjoy better health."
The Coordination of Pro Bono Medically Recommended Dental Care Act authorizes $2 million a year in grant funding to organizations that work to provide free dental services to low-income and elderly individuals and children.
Specifically, these grants will help eligible organizations cover the administrative costs associated with activities like determining patient eligibility, maintaining proper dental records and coordinating with the volunteer dentists providing the care. This investment will allow dentists to provide upwards of $13 million in dental services to more than 5,000 people.
Medically necessary dental care goes beyond a yearly check-up; it also addresses dental conditions that have caused or adversely affect a medical condition. Patients with diabetes or renal disease can be severely affected by dental problems. The elderly, the disabled and low-income children can greatly benefit from this legislation.