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AGD Applauds Congressional Support of SCHIP Reauthorization

Urges President to Sign the Bill

CHICAGO, Oct. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) applauded the approval by both congressional chambers of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization bill, which included many beneficial dental provisions. The bill now heads to President Bush for his signature.

"Access to care, especially for children, is one of the AGD's top legislative priorities for this year," stated AGD's President, Vincent Mayher, DMD, MAGD. "The inclusion of guaranteed dental coverage in the final SCHIP bill will ensure that millions of children receive essential oral health care," said Dr. Mayher. Currently, approximately 23 million children are without dental care insurance in the United States.

The bill passed by both chambers includes "coverage of dental services necessary to prevent disease and promote oral health, restore oral structures to health and function, and treat emergency conditions." The bill also contains language on dental education for parents of newborns, inclusion of specific dental requirements in a new set of child health quality measures in Medicaid and SCHIP, and a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on access to dental services for children in underserved areas. "A guarantee of dental coverage in SCHIP was a top priority for our members," stated Janet Kopenhaver, AGD's Washington Lobbyist. "Our members sent letters and met in person on Capitol Hill with lawmakers to urge them to include this provision in the final bill. It appears that these efforts paid off," Kopenhaver added. Legislators' votes on this bill will be a "scorecard component" when the AGD grades lawmakers serving in the 110th Congress on their commitment to basic oral health care services for all.

Dental care is a basic and necessary health care service for children, and can prevent systemic and oral disease. Early and preventive treatment has a proven track record of cost effectiveness, especially among low-income children. The success of SCHIP in decreasing the number of uninsured children has significantly affected the health-status of children from lower-income families, and needs to be continued.

However, the president is threatening to veto this bill. "We need to put politics aside and reauthorize this program," asserted Mayher. "The need to protect our nation's children and their overall health should not be ignored," he concluded.

The bill passed the House on September 25 by a vote of 265 to 159, or 25 votes short of a veto-proof margin. It passed the Senate on September 27 by a vote of 67 to 29, enough votes to constitute a veto-proof margin.

The SCHIP was authorized by Congress in 1997 to expand public health care to low-income children and families. At that time, SCHIP gave $40 billion to states for 10 years to provide coverage for children living in families who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance. Today, this successful program covers more than six million children.

About the AGD

The AGD is a professional association of more than 35,000 general dentists dedicated to staying up-to-date in the profession through continuing education. Founded in 1952, the AGD has grown to become the world's second largest dental association, and the only association that exclusively represents the needs and interests of general dentists.

More than 772,000 persons are employed directly in the field of dentistry. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, and overall coordination of services related to patients' oral health needs.

For more information, visit .

SOURCE The Academy of General Dentistry
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