AAPD Congressional Liaison Participates in Children’s Oral Health Briefing on Capitol Hill
AAPD Congressional Liaison Dr. Heber Simmons Jr. was one of the expert panelists at a Feb. 27, 2009, Capitol Hill briefing for Congressional staffers. The briefing focused on policy initiatives to improve access to oral health care for children of low-income families. The briefing was convened by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) to coincide with Children’s Dental Health month, and was co-sponsored by the AAPD, ADA, Academy of General Dentistry, American Dental Hygienists’ Association, Children’s Dental Health Project, Hispanic Dental Association, and National Dental Association. Three members of Congress also co-sponsored the briefing: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-7th Md.), Rep. Kathy Castor (D-11th Fla.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).
Attendees included staff aides for key members of Congress and representatives of the Maryland State Dental Association, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and private sector health policy organizations.
Simmons explained how reforming Medicaid dental programs and increasing the number of pediatric dentists are critical steps to improving access. He also highlighted the AAPD’s five-year contract with Head Start to develop a national network of pediatric and general dentists to link low-income children with dental homes. Head Start Project Director and AAPD Child Advocate Dr. James J. Crall also attended the briefing. Pediatric dentist Dr. George P. Thomas explained the impact of Title VII funding on his pediatric dentistry residency program at Howard University.
House and Senate members offered congressional resolutions expressing support for Children’s Dental Health Month and honoring the life of Deamonte Driver, the 12-year-old Maryland boy who died Feb. 25, 2007, of complications from an untreated oral abscess. Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) introduced S. Concurrent Resolution 8 with co-sponsors Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and John D. Rockefeller, IV (D-W.Va.) A companion measure, H. Con. Res. 56, was offered by Cummings with co-sponsorship from Castor and Rep. (and dentist) Mike Simpson (R-2nd Idaho).
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(l-r) Briefing presenters were: pediatric dentist Dr. George P. Thomas, Professor and Chairman, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Howard University (representing the National Dental Association); pediatric dentist and dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry Dr. Huw F. Thomas (moderator, representing the American Dental Education Association); Ms. Katharine E. Lyter, Dental Director in Montgomery County, Md. (representing the American Dental Hygienists’ Association); Ms. Nancy R. Gralla, Executive Director of the Children’s Dental Health Project; AAPD Congressional Liaison Dr. Heber Simmons Jr.; and Dr. Terry Dickinson, Executive Director of the Virginia Dental Association (representing ADA).
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