In a March 17 letter to Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Fred Upton, R-Mich., ADA President Cesar R. Sabates, D.D.S., and Executive Director Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., thanked the lawmakers for introducing HR 6000, the Cures 2.0 Act. The bill contains several issues the ADA supports but the ADA is urging lawmakers to include dentistry when developing a strategy to prepare for the next pandemic.
“It is critical that dentistry be recognized as a viable resource in expanding the nation’s medical surge capacity,” Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia wrote. “For example, early in the COVID pandemic, federal officials granted pharmacists the ability to order and administer tests. Dentists were never granted that authority by the federal government, even though 24 states and the District of Columbia did so. In order to avoid these types of problems in the future, dentists need to be included in the Cures 2.0 Act as an essential part of the response strategy for future pandemics.”
Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia also said that dentists are among those providers who can administer vaccines and urged the lawmakers to recognize that in the bill, noting that both the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Response Framework both identify dentistry by name as a “vital” medical countermeasure.
“Having dentistry at the planning table early on — and being there in a codified way in the Cures 2.0 Act — will help ensure that this vital national resource is not overlooked.”
The ADA also commented on the following sections of the bill:
• Sec. 104, Vaccine and Immunization Programs. The ADA has worked to help dentists educate patients about the need for COVID-19 vaccination and the public awareness campaign on vaccination described in this section would assist with that effort.
• Sec. 105, Developing Antibacterial Innovations. The section charges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with releasing a report on antibacterial prophylactics. The ADA is asking the CDC to include information on prophylactic antibiotics prior to dental procedures in this report, noting the use of these antibiotics prior to dental treatment should be reserved for patients at high risk for post-treatment complications in order to minimize the risk of adverse effects and the development of drug-resistant bacteria.
• Sec. 201, Educational Programs and Training for Caregivers. The ADA is asking Congress to recognize the critical role caregivers play in oral health care by including oral health care in the list of training programs provided to caregivers. The ADA is recommending that the training be provided by Community Dental Health Coordinators.
• Sec. 202, Increasing Health Literacy to Promote Better Outcomes for Patients. The ADA would like Congress to encourage the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to work with the ADA to develop best practices for oral health literacy, especially for the vulnerable populations served by Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
• Sec. 402, Strategies to Increase Access to Telehealth Under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The ADA believes examinations performed using teledentistry can be an effective way to extend the reach of dental professionals and increase access to care but said “the care must be consistent with that provided in person.” The Association would like the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission to study teledentistry — including its effects on dental access, quality of care and outcomes — in the report on telehealth required under Sec. 402.
• Sec. 410, Generally Accepted Standard for Electronic Prescribing. The ADA is requesting that the standards maintenance organization designated in Sec. 410 consult with the ADA on the development of the standard for electronic prescribing and that the ADA be included in the multi-stakeholder forum to ensure that the organization addresses dentists’ questions and concerns regarding electronic prescribing.
• Sec. 502, Research Investment to Spark the Economy. The ADA said it agrees that scientific research and innovation are key to growing the economy and said the funding provided in this section to the National Institutes of Health will continue research that was disrupted by COVID-19, including oral health research at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts at ADA.org/Advocacy.