Bipartisan Oral Health Coalition to Congress: Don’t Block Critical Resources for Dental Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 26, 2021

CONTACT: Jack Cardinal, (781) 960-5208

jcardinal@communitycatalyst.org

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Last week, a group of 92 health care advocates including the American Public Health Association, the National Rural Health Association and the National Indian Health Board sent letters to congressional leaders on health care urging them to allow states and Tribal communities to access much-needed resources to build a dental therapy workforce in order to tear down walls limiting access to oral health care and connect good-paying jobs to underserved communities. Dental therapists are licensed providers that work under the supervision of a dentist to provide routine care like exams and fillings.

Support for dental therapy is bipartisan and diverse, attracting justice organizations and well-established medical associations. The tremendous support for dental therapy is only matched by the need for it. Even outside of a pandemic, the fact that 60 million Americans live in dental care deserts and nearly one-third of adults have skipped dental care because of costs underscores the severe lack of equitable access to care that can be partially addressed by having more trained professionals serving in the communities where they live. Additionally, dental therapists have proven economic benefits by expanding a dental practice and providing new pathways to economic security for families.

Emily Stewart, executive director of Community Catalyst said, “We are thrilled that nearly 100 organizations have signed on to tell Congress that dental therapy programs are needed more than ever to address the structural barriers that have led to racial inequities in oral health and provide more economic opportunities as our nation continues to pull out of the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to working with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to ensure that the voices that this diverse and bipartisan coalition do not go unheard.”

The letter to leadership of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education Committee on Appropriations can be found HERE.

The letter to leadership of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies can be found HERE.

Dental therapists have been working in the U.S. for more than 15 years. Dental therapy education programs are accredited by the same body that accredits education programs for dentists. Currently, dental therapists are working or authorized in some settings in 12 states.

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About Community Catalyst:

Community Catalyst is a leading non-profit national health advocacy organization dedicated to advancing a movement for health equity and justice. We partner with local, state, and national advocates to leverage community power so all people can influence decisions that affect their health. Health systems will not be accountable to people without a fully engaged and organized community voice. That’s why we work every day to ensure people’s interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and health care are made: in communities, statehouses, and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @CommCatHealth.

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