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On February 4th, President Obama signed legislation for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) re-authorization. The overwhelming support in Congress, and CHIP’s quick passage demonstrated a real commitment to providing children with access to proper dental care. Previously, dental benefits were not provided to CHIP-eligible children. According to MSNBC, the new CHIP bill provides the following provisions to needy children:

coverage for dental care, oral health education for new parents, expanded access for health center patients, and increased accountability and quality of care for millions of children whose families are unable to afford private dental insurance(msnbc.com)

It was not until 2 years ago, when Deamonte Driver, 12, of Maryland died from what began as an infected tooth that our elected officials took a serious look at the importance of proper dental care. If you’re unfamiliar with Deamonte’s story, you can read more about it at the Dental Heroes Blog. What’s frightening is that while rare, Deamonte’s condition, tooth decay, is the “single most common chronic disease in US children – yet it is preventable(msnbc.com).”

Dr. Burt Edelstein, the founding Director of the Children’s Dental Health Project, said this after Obama signed the revised CHIP bill:

“By reauthorizing and strengthening this highly successful program, millions of low-income children will have vital dental coverage. We applaud the bipartisan support that has strengthened this program and expanded eligibility to more children living without health insurance in this country,” said Edelstein. “We especially thank the policymakers that have fought tirelessly over the years to ensure that this day would come to fruition, making the point that oral health is recognized as an important part of overall health.”

Certainly a good start to ensuring that children are not affected unnecessarily by preventable conditions – namely tooth decay. I am concerned about how we will pay for the expanded coverage now afforded by the CHIP Bill. As will all legislative measures that have recently passed, I’m going to take a “wait-and-see” approach.

Your Thoughts

Is the inclusion of dental care into the new CHIP bill a good or bad idea?

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Cory Kemp is the founder and chief editor of DentalPlanCards.com. He's committed to providing consumers with helpful tips for saving money at the dentist. Follow me on Google +