CHICAGO, January 26, 2017 - With the nomination hearing of U.S. Representative Tom Price for the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Oral Health America (OHA), a national nonprofit dedicated to changing lives by connecting communities with oral health resources to increase access to care, health literacy and equitable policies, sent key questions to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
It has been nearly 17 years since U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher MD, PhD, published the first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health that declared dental and oral diseases a “silent epidemic” in America. OHA sought to learn how Secretary-designate Dr. Price plans to utilize the resources at the Department of Health and Human Services to educate the American public about the importance of oral health and the relationship to overall health and well-being.
OHA’s questions for the hearing covered Dr. Price’s position on Medicare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Community Water Fluoridation (CWF). OHA’s questions probed the issues that affect our organization’s advocacy priorities.
What steps are you willing to take to ensure all Americans, young and old, poor or rich, educated or non-educated, receive dental insurance to cover dental services such as exam, cleanings, fillings, and extractions?
Does Secretary-designate Dr. Price agree with President-elect Trump’s statements and what is the secretary-designate’s vision for the future of Medicare? Specifically, what changes do you believe are needed in Medicare and does your vision include the addition of an oral health benefit to improve the overall health of seniors?
As a proponent of the ACA’s repeal and replacement, what will Secretary-designate Dr. Price do, if confirmed, to ensure Americans do not face periods of time without coverage, or lose previously held benefits, for example, through the essential health benefit of dental coverage for 8 million children or through Medicaid expansion, as a result of legislation that would replace the ACA?
What is Secretary-designate Dr. Price’s position on the FY2018 and future budgets vis-à-vis their impact on the ability to extend funding for CHIP, a bipartisan-supported program that provides 8 million children and 370,000 pregnant women with affordable, age appropriate health coverage, including a guaranteed dental benefit?
What is the position of Secretary-designate Dr. Price on Community Water Fluoridation? Do you endorse Community Water Fluoridation as an effective public health strategy as previous U.S. surgeon generals have done publicly?
OHA champions the principle that everyone deserves a healthy mouth. Our legislative priorities are based on increasing access to oral health care by advocating for innovative policies and evidence-based interventions, such as school-based sealant programs, guaranteed dental benefits in CHIP and Medicare, Community Water Fluoridation and an inter-professional dental workforce.
From including dental health coverage in Medicare to Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), OHA has a vested interest in legislation that ensures oral health care for all. We continue to stand as the national voice for oral health – particularly for vulnerable children and older adults.
To read the letter that was sent to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, please visit https://oralhealthamerica.org/blog/2017/01/letter-to-senate-committee-on-health-education-labor-and-pensions-concerning-dr-price-appointment/.
For more information about Oral Health America’s advocacy efforts, please visit oralhealthamerica.org/take-action.