June 07, 2012
Leading Consumer Group Praises Sanders-Cummings Bill to Expand Access to Oral Health Care
Statement of David Jordan, Director of Community Catalystís Dental Health Access Project at todayís press conference regarding legislation filed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) to expand oral health access in the United States
WASHINGTON, DC - "On behalf Community Catalyst and the state and local consumer health advocates that we work with, I would like to thank Senator Sanders and Congressman Cummings for their leadership and for proposing a comprehensive plan to improve the oral health of all Americans.
"Today, over 82 million Americans are unable to get regular dental care because there are no affordable options in their community or they cannot find a dentist who will treat them. This means millions of Americans silently suffer in pain, which negatively impacts their lives, harming their performance at work and school.
"For care, tens of thousands of Americans, hat in hand, camp out and line up at makeshift free dental clinics in the hopes of getting episodic care, or they turn to the emergency room for costly care that usually just relieves their pain but does not treat their disease.
"That is why it is exciting to stand with Sen. Sanders and Congressman Cummings today as they propose expanding oral health coverage for our most vulnerable neighbors.
"This proposal invests in community-based care at federal qualified community health centers, school-based health centers and in rural settings - creating new, community based access points to better serve unserved populations with affordable care in their own neighborhoods.
"Nearly 50 million Americans live in dental shortage areas making it difficult for them to find a dentist who can treat them. Thus, we applaud the inclusion of an innovative workforce pilot program that will test innovative workforce models such as dental therapists in the Department of Defense, the Bureau of Prisons and the Veteran Affairs and Indian Health Services.
"Dental therapy is a provider model that has proven time and again to help increase access to cost effective, culturally competent care. In the U.S., dental therapists have already improved access for tens of thousands of Alaska Natives and they are beginning to do the same in Minnesota.
"This proposal outlines a vision of a dental delivery system that is better equipped to serve millions of unserved Americans by expanding coverage and investing in community-based care that is coordinated and culturally competent.
"Community Catalyst looks forward to working with Sen. Sanders and Congressman Cummings to make this vision a reality so that Americans have regular access to routine and preventive care. It's time we made dental care via makeshift clinics and emergency rooms a thing of the past."
About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to quality affordable health care for all. Since 1997, Community Catalyst has been working to build the consumer and community leadership required to transform the American health system. With the belief that this transformation will happen when consumers are fully engaged and have an organized voice, Community Catalyst works in partnership with national, state and local consumer organizations, policymakers, and foundations, providing leadership and support to change the health care system so it serves everyone - especially vulnerable members of society. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org.