On July 19, 2017, the House Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) spending bill. The AGD was pleased to see that the bill expressly prohibits any funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Alternative Dental Health Care Provider Demonstration program and that it included a directive to HRSA to provide an update on the status of its effort to reestablish a Chief Dental Officer with executive level authority and resources. House appropriators also included language submitted by the AGD that encourages HRSA to address the impact of medication on oral health.
$36.67 million for training in oral health programs was provided by the Committee, and of that amount, General Dentistry programs and Pediatric Dentistry programs were each provided a $10 million set-aside. In addition, within the funds provided, the Committee provides “no less than” $1.675 million for the Dental Faculty Loan Repayment program. The Committee also directs HRSA to provide continuation funding for grants initially awarded in FY 2016-17. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s oral health programs were provided $18 million and roughly $7 million in increased funding was recommended for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, bringing the total to $432 million.
There is no guarantee that the provisions found within the Committee-approved bill will make it into law as they still need to be passed in both chambers, reconciled, and then signed by the President. What is likely to happen is that selected provisions from both the House and Senate Labor-HHS funding bills will be incorporated into an omnibus appropriations bill to be taken up later this year.
Impact on General Dentistry: The House Appropriations Committee’s adoption of the AGD’s recommended funding totals and report language speaks to the importance and success of the AGD’s ongoing strategic advocacy efforts. In the coming months, the AGD will continue to push appropriators to retain this critical funding and language in any final spending package.