Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which serves 8.9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women each year, expired on September 30. While the House has reauthorized it, the Senate has not scheduled a full vote for its own bill. Some states have begun telling families that CHIP services may not be available in 2018 unless Congress acts.
The ADA has designated November 30 as a day of action for its members to contact their senators and highlight the oral health benefits that CHIP provides underserved children. In an action alert sent to its members, the ADA provided talking points for dentists to use in contacting their senators. For example, the alert noted that tooth decay is the most common chronic condition among children and adolescents.
Oral health problems from childhood also can persist into adulthood, the alert said, affecting employability, military readiness, and overall health. Untreated dental disease has a significant economic impact on the healthcare system as well, with emergency room visits for dental conditions costing $863 compared to $240 for an average dental office visit, among other costs.
ADA members can go online to participate in the campaign.
Meanwhile, the California Dental Association (CDA) also is urging its 27,000 members to contact their senators in support of CHIP’s reauthorization. The CDA notes that CHIP supports 2 million children and pregnant women in California, though its funding will run out in December and leave the state with a potential $1 billion gap in Medi-Cal coverage. The CDA offers a template letter that members can use in contacting their representatives.