The ADA wrote U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-NJ, to thank him for the introduction of the Dental Care for Our Troops Act, which would improve the oral health of servicemembers and aid in military readiness.
In the May 15 letter, ADA President George R. Shepley, D.D.S., and ADA Executive Director Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., said the Association strongly urges the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to include the Dental Care for Our Troops Act in the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.
“The ADA applauds your leadership on this issue and stands ready to work with you to improve access to oral health care for members of the reserves and the National Guard,” Drs. Shepley and Cohlmia wrote.
The Dental Care for Our Troops Act would provide premium-free TRICARE dental coverage to reserve component servicemembers. About 130,000 reservists and members of the National Guard do not have any form of health insurance, let alone dental coverage.
“Because servicemembers are required to meet dental and medical deployability requirements, the lack of insurance coverage among guardsmen and reservists presents a major challenge to the Reserve Component’s readiness for deployment,” Drs. Shepley and Cohlmia wrote. “Providing access to TRICARE dental coverage at no cost to these servicemembers and their families who currently have inconsistent dental coverage would not only help ensure the oral health of our servicemembers, it would also assist national security by making sure the servicemembers are able to deploy.”
Drs. Shepley and Cohlmia added that providing TRICARE dental coverage for guardsmen and reservists would also take the burden of providing dental insurance coverage off of employers, thus incentivizing the hiring and retention of Guardsmen and reservists.
“Many dentists serve in the National Guard and reserves and would benefit from this hiring and retention incentive,” they said. “Additionally, many dentists are small business owners, and this bill would help facilitate their hiring and retention of Guardsmen and reservists.”
Follow ADA advocacy efforts at ADA.org/advocacy.