President Signs Bill Expanding Dental Care Coverage In Health Insurance Program for Low-income Children

February is Children’s Dental Health month and today dental care for children emerged as a key priority for this country as the President signed legislation for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization. This legislation is the second bill that the President has signed into law, and has received overwhelming support in Congress. The Children’s Dental Project applauds President Obama and this Congress for moving quickly and demonstrating that children’s access to proper dental care is a major priority. This legislation provides a stable dental benefit for CHIP eligible children for the first time along with provisions that include: coverage for dental care, oral health education for new parents, expanded access for health center patients, and increased accountability and quality of care for millions of children whose families are unable to afford private dental insurance. Dental care became a significant issue for Congress after the death of Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old Maryland boy who died two years ago this month from complications due to the infection of a decayed tooth that spread to his brain. Inspired by this story, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) has been a major advocate for the passage of this legislation. He declares today a victory for children’s oral health. “From Deamonte Driver’s tragic death, we will bring life. Deamonte’s case was rare and extreme, but he was by no means alone in his suffering. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that dental decay is the single most common chronic disease in US children—yet it is preventable. With this landmark legislation, we take the first steps toward ensuring that all the Deamontes out there are freed from their senseless pain and suffering,” Congressman Cummings said. Dr. Burt Edelstein, Founding Director of the Children’s Dental Health Project is pleased that this bill has passed today and says it will go a long way toward ensuring that children can grow and develop free of dental pain and infection. “By reauthorizing and strengthening this highly successful program, millions of low-income children will have vital dental coverage. We applaud the bipartisan support that has strengthened this program and expanded eligibility to more children living without health insurance in this country,” said Edelstein. “We especially thank the policymakers that have fought tirelessly over the years to ensure that this day would come to fruition, making the point that oral health is recognized as an important part of overall health.”

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children ages 6-12 suffered a toothache in the previous six months.
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