ADA to Congress: Increase support for veteran affairs dental workforce

The American Dental Association is asking Congress to make changes to the VA Workforce Improvement, Support and Expansion Act of 2022, or WISE Act, to increase support for the Department of Veterans Affairs' dental workforce.

ADA President Cesar Sabates, DDS, and Executive Director Raymond Cohlmia, DDS, wrote a letter Aug. 3 to Sen. Jon Tester. The letter said improving the Department of Veterans Affairs' ability to attract dental talent is an essential component of providing veterans with access to care, according to an Aug. 10 news release from the ADA.

"[According to the ADA Health Policy Institute], at a time when 80 percent of dentists who are currently hiring are finding the recruitment of dental hygienists and assistants to be extremely or very challenging, VA must commit adequate resources to the VA dental workforce if it is going to meet the oral health needs of veterans," Dr. Sabates and Dr. Cohlmia wrote.

Here are four things the ADA is asking Congress to consider:

  • Where applicable, dental team members should have parity with physicians and allied medical professionals.
  • Dental hygienists and assistants should be eligible for the VA's health profession scholarships and coverage of exam costs.
  • Community dental health coordinators should be included in the Rural Interdisciplinary Team Training program and the Geriatric Patient Aligned Care Team Model to break down dental care access barriers for older veterans and those who live in rural areas, in addition to those with memory loss.
  • The VA should allow all dentists, dental hygienists and assistants to be reimbursed for continuing professional education fees.

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