AADOCR Advocates for Dental Provisions in Build Back Better Act

Published on December 17, 2021 by Yehuda Sugarman

Dental School Scholarships 

The House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act authorized the “Rural and Underserved Pathway to Practice Training Programs”, a new program that provides scholarships for medical students from economically disadvantaged communities to attend medical school and to residents who commit to practicing in underserved and rural areas. However, the legislation excludes dental students and residents from the program.

The AADOCR responded by spearheading a sign-on letter that urged Senate Democratic leadership to expand eligibility to students attending or interested in attending dental school in the Senate version of the Build Back Better Act. The letter was circulated among the Organized Dentistry Coalition of which 15 member organizations signed on.

Medicaid Dental Benefit

On December 10, six prominent Democratic House members sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urging them to add a provision to the final version of the Build Back Better Act that would make comprehensive dental care a mandatory component of Medicaid coverage for all enrolled adults. Note: This is different than the Medicare dental benefit, which was removed from the House bill amid concerns over the bill’s price tag and division within the dental advocacy community.

There has also been strong support for this provision within Congress and from outside groups supportive of expanding access to dental care. In July, Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-CA) and several other House members introduced the Medicaid Dental Benefit Act (H.R. 4439), which would mandate dental care coverage under Medicaid in every state. In November, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) sponsored companion legislation (S. 3166) in the Senate.

In late December, Families USA organized a sign-on letter that urges Senate leadership to include a provision in the Build Back Better package that accomplishes the same goal of these pieces of legislation. The AADOCR signed onto the letter and has communicated to lawmakers the importance of enacting this measure as soon as possible.