DENTAL CARE: Bill Would Broaden Access for Uninsured
Reps. David Obey (D-WI) and Tom Barrett (D-WI) unveiled a bill Tuesday designed to increase access to dental care for people living in communities designated as "Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas." The bill is a companion measure to legislation introduced earlier this month in the Senate by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). "We need to provide people with access to basic dental care so they can live healthy lives," Barrett said, adding, "This bill will provide access to basic preventative dental care to people who really need it." The Dental Health Access Expansion Act is a three-pronged plan intended to strengthen the safety net, reinforce the established system of private dental care and streamline federal regulations so states and localities can better access funds. The bill would create a federal grant program under the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to which areas lacking dental health professionals could apply for funding to hire primary care dentists. The bill would also create a grant program to give bonus payments to dentists located in shortage ares who devote 25% or more of their time to serving Medicaid patients. Finally, the bill would direct HRSA to work with the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors to help identify dental shortage areas (release, 5/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.