CDHP Commends Congress on the Passage of SCHIP Reauthorization

Dental care for children emerged as a key priority for Congress today as the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the measure to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to cover 11 million children. This legislation provides a stable dental benefit for SCHIP eligible children for the first time along with provisions that support early visits to the dentist, quality dental care, and improved access. The Children’s Dental Project applauds the 111th Congress for moving quickly and demonstrating that children’s access to proper dental care is a major priority. The bill included key dental provisions which were in the SCHIP reauthorization bill that Congress passed in 2007, but was vetoed by President Bush. Some of the dental provisions in this legislation will:

  • Guarantee a dental benefit for children covered by SCHIP that includes preventive, restorative, and emergency dental care.
  • Provide dental education for parents of newborns.
  • Allow community health centers to contract with private dentists for the purpose of providing dental care under Medicaid and SCHIP.
  • Direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a core set of child health quality measures for assessing states' Medicaid and SCHIP programs, including measures for the availability of dental services and the quality of pediatric dental care.

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 from complications due to the infection of a decayed tooth that spread to his brain. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) has been has been a major advocate for the passage of this legislation and for Deamonte. 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 children—and 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. I commend my colleagues for joining me in this cause, and look forward to continuing to work together to end this epidemic once and for all,” Congressman Cummings said. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also has declared this a huge victory for working families. “At a time of economic crisis, nothing could be more essential than ensuring that the children of hardworking families receive the quality care they deserve. With more than 2.6 million jobs lost last year alone, Americans are seeing the health care they and their children depend on disappear. By helping working families find affordable health care coverage, this bipartisan legislation will ensure that 11 million of America’s children grow up healthy, strong, and ready to learn,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement. The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on their version of the SCHIP legislation tomorrow.

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