ADA applauds congressman for introducing Doctors of Community Act

Bill would increase the dental workforce, especially in underserved communities

The ADA thanked U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-NJ, for sponsoring The Doctors of Community Act. This bill would help address deficits in the dental workforce, especially in underserved communities and populations, through support for new and expanded dental residency programs.

ADA President George R. Shepley, D.D.S., and Executive Director Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., in an April 18 letter, also thanked Rep. Pallone, as the ranking member of the committee, for including the bill, HR 2569, in a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing, “Examining Existing Federal Programs to Build a Stronger Health Workforce and Improve Primary Care.”

“As you know, the DOC Act would permanently extend and expand the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, which trains residents to serve some of our nation’s most vulnerable populations in community-based settings such as federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, and tribal health centers,” said Drs. Shepley and Cohlmia. “Permanent, dedicated funding would provide stability to teaching health centers and strengthen continuity of care in underserved communities.”

Drs. Shepley and Cohlmia said the DOC Act would also direct critical funding to a program that has needed increased resources for years, allowing for the expansion of existing THCGME programs and the creation of many new THCGME programs and residency slots.

“The expansion would address general health workforce shortages and would also increase equity by addressing persistent disparities,” wrote Drs. Shepley and Cohlmia. “Because 60 percent of THCGME training sites are in Medically Underserved Communities, and research suggests that dentists and physicians are more likely to practice near the location of their training, this bill would likely increase access to care in MUCs and lead to better health outcomes among populations experiencing oral health disparities.”

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