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What the Health Reform Bill Means for Dental Care

The Health Reform Bill signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, is sure to change the face of healthcare in America – for better or worse. The bill represented one of the most contentious legislative battles in recent memory. So contentious, in fact, that the final vote split down party lines. Within the dental industry, the story was no different. Many industry groups hold opposing stances with regards to the bill. Some groups even neglected to take an official stance due to the highly-politicized nature of the bill. What we can all agree on, however, is that the Health Reform Bill will produce a number of changes to the way dental care is administered, promoted and payed for.

16 Ways Dental Care is affected by the Health Reform Bill

Sadly, not much has been said in the mainstream media about the specific ways the Health Reform Bill will affect those of us in the dentistry field. In fact, that’s the inspiration behind this post. Below, you will find a list of the ways this bill will affect you – the dental professional – minus the politics. The Health Reform Bill will:

1. Require insurance plans to include pediatric oral health services for children up to 21 years of age

2. Establish an oral health prevention program and fund states to develop oral health leadership

3. Enhance oral health data systems

4. Implement dental sealants, water fluoridation and preventive programs

5. Establish a five-year national, public education campaign focused on oral health care prevention and education and targeted to certain populations, including children, the elderly, and pregnant women

6. Require essential health benefits package to include oral care among other things

7. Award demonstration grants in consultation with professional oral health organizations to eligible entities to demonstrate the effectiveness of research-based dental caries disease management activities

8. Authorize the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) to review payments for dental services in Medicaid and CHIP

9. Establish a process for updating payments to dental health professionals

10. Reaffirm that dentists will be members of the Commission

11. Establish a separate dental section and funding line of $30 million for training in general, pediatric, and public health dentistry

12. Increase eligibility for new grant programs in the Title VII Health Professions Programs to train dental and allied dental health professionals

13. Make dental schools eligible for federal grants for pre-doctoral training, faculty development, dental faculty loan repayment, and academic administrative units, grants currently available only to medical schools

14. Modify current law to allow hospitals to count dental and medical resident time spent in didactic (scholarly) activities toward Indirect Medical Education (IME) costs in hospital settings and toward Direct Graduate Medical Education (D-GME) in non-hospital settings (dental school clinics)

15. Authorize grants to establish training programs for alternative dental health care providers to increase access to dental health care services in rural, tribal, and underserved communities

16. Exempt dental coverage from the premium amounts subject to excise tax on high cost insurance plans

The takeaway? Both the patients being served and the way dental care is delivered will look quite different in the coming years. Only time will tell if these measures will represent a positive or negative change for dentistry. What are your thoughts?

Your Thoughts

I know you guys have opinions about the measures set forth in the Health Reform Bill that specifically relate to dentistry – let’s hear them. Leave a comment below and let the discussion begin!

Additional Resources

As you can see, I just scratched the surface with the list above. Take a look at some of these additional resources from the ADA, ADHA and ADEA for more in-depth information related to dental care’s place in the Health Reform Bill.

Reader Comments

  1. Joe Ward March 27th

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    The #1 most needed and important Preventative for over-All health is- proper “DENTAL & ORAL” Health Care for All Adults. Without “DENTAL” – this bill is still the same-ol’ SICKNESS & DISEASE Plan.


  2. sofia March 28th

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    I agree, prevention ought to be the key


  3. Dental Nurse Jobs March 29th

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    I hope it is going to help thousands of people get good dental care, dental health is so important!


  4. Sam May 27th

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    Requiring dental and vision insurance plans to be included in group insurance packages and allowing children to stay on their parents insurance into their twenties will promote dental hygiene in a much needed way. This plan is certainly promising.


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    Socialized dental care is useful for some people – like children in need and the handicapped. You can see how the Brits have moved away from socialized dental care for all because it’s a bad idea.


  6. David Mandich September 30th

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    The healthcare bill does nothing to lower the high cost of dentistry in America. That is why so many are going off-shore to get their dental work done. A crown can cost $800 to 3,000usd in the states vs. $400-500 in Mexico. A dental makeover can cost up to $75,000usd in the US vs. $15-20,000 in Mexico.

    The following clinics offer free round trip airfare or up to two weeks resort stays for dental or surgical makeover patients: http://www.angelstouchdentalclinic.com (Cabo, Mazatlan & Puerto Vallarta), http://www.cabocosmeticdental.com & http://www.cabocosmetcsurgery.com


  7. Ron McCoy April 21st

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    We’re following this development with interest. Although some provisions of the new legislation are being implemented, we’re not yet seeing much affect in our practice.


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    It is just expansion of federal regulation and control. Seeing a dentist is not a right, it’s a privilege. The government cannot provide the people with something they cannot provide for themselves.


  9. Jonathan Ford October 22nd

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    I think there is going to be a very interesting dilemma that Delta dental is going to be facing if the Supreme Court upholds the healthcare act. Delta Dental is a stand alone dental insurance company and does not have a medical insurance side. They will a lot of their customers that are children. Good post….would like to hear your thoughts on it?


  10. Carole Davis June 16th

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    Real nice provisions here for everyone but the elderly and disabled. Why hasn’t Medicare been included?


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