A burst of activity at the end of the year is good news for oral health in underserved rural and urban areas.
The White House released a report Dec. 3 that touched on oral health. In the report on health reform, the White House called for states to consider dental therapy and remove restrictive supervision requirements on dental hygiene, both steps that could broaden access to oral health care.
This month, President Donald Trump also signed the Action For Dental Health Act, which opens up more organizations to qualify for federal grants to develop oral health prevention initiatives and expands how grants can be used to pay for oral health care initiatives.
Surgeon General Jerome Adams has also launched a further study of oral health care. According to Pew:
“A lot has changed in 20 years,” Adams told a packed room of oral health stakeholders. He explained that the new work, spearheaded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, would update and document inequities in disease burden and care access, address the adequacy of the provider workforce “head on,” and probe the role of dentistry in the opioid crisis.
“Workforce issues are touchy for some,” Adams said. “Some issues that have been taboo … we must have the courage to address them.”
The new study by his office will explore topics such as oral health across a life span, possibilities for integration of medical and dental care, the effects of oral health on communities and the economy, and the impact of the opioid epidemic. Next steps in the planning process include a webinar Jan. 10 to update the public on the status of the report—and to request public input to help shape its content.
Meanwhile, in the report released this month, the White House issued a call for reforms to health care markets more generally to improve care quality and expand access while reducing costs. The report discusses steps to remove or revise “certain federal and state regulations and policies that inhibit choice and competition,” changes that could have a direct impact on access to dental care. Among the agencies that contributed to the analysis are the departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor, and the Federal Trade Commission.