President Biden signs $1.2T spending bill into law

Legislation funds oral health training, dental research programs

President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion spending bill into law March 23 that will fund the government through Sept. 30, finalizing the overdue second tranche of bills and avoiding the threat of a shutdown. The legislation includes funding for dental-related programs that address access to care, oral health literacy, dental research and workforce development. 
“The bipartisan funding bill I just signed keeps the government open, invests in the American people, and strengthens our economy and national security. This agreement represents a compromise, which means neither side got everything it wanted,” Mr. Biden said in a statement
Due to the difficult budgetary climate and limits placed on discretionary spending, most recently approved oral health programs were funded at the fiscal year 2023 level, except military dental research. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Oral Health was given $20 million, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s oral health training programs were funded at $42 million, the oral health literacy campaign was given $300,000, and the Ryan White Dental Program was given $13.6 million — all the same amount as last year.  
The oral health training appropriations include funds for State Oral Health Workforce grants, including continuation funding for post-doctoral training grants, predoctoral dental grants and dental faculty loan repayment program grants. They also provide funds for training in general, pediatric and public health dentistry and dental hygiene. The oral health literacy funding helps to continue an oral health awareness and education campaign across Health Resources and Services Administration divisions, directing the agency to identify oral health literacy strategies that are evidence based and focused on oral health care prevention and education — on topics such as caries, periodontal disease and oral cancer.  
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Military Dental Research Program was given $12 million, a $2 million increase from fiscal year 2023, to continue advancements in the aid of wounded service members who suffer head and facial injuries in the field.  
The appropriations bill includes more than $25 million in community project funding for dental and oral health initiatives nationwide. Funding includes $15 million to boost dental education in Arkansas, requested by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.; $3.6 million for dental clinic development and expansion in Minnesota, requested by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and $1.9 million for a dental school training clinic and equipment, requested by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. 
Mr. Biden signed the first minibus March 9, which was a six-bill $460 billion spending package that included appropriations for Indian health and veterans.   
The Indian Health Service Dental Health Program was given $252.6 million to continue its work in providing quality dental care to American Indians and Alaska Natives. The first minibus also contained a recommendation of $2.6 billion to provide dental care for veterans and to request information on the role, resources and staffing required for the Assistant Under Secretary of Health for Dentistry and the Office of Dentistry.  
This package also included funding extensions for workforce programs, including the National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Centers and Community Health Centers, through Dec. 31.  
The packages’ approval comes after the ADA sent a letter in September 2023 thanking Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for introducing the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act. The Association expressed support for efforts to extend the State Oral Health Workforce Improvement Grant Program, oral health training programs, the Community Health Center Fund, the National Health Service Corps and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program.  
“These programs are crucial steps towards shoring up our nation’s dental and medical workforce so that more Americans can have access to high quality health care,” the letter said. “Workforce and access to care issues are among the ADA’s top priorities.” 

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