On June 25, 2018, the House Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) spending bill. Notably, the bill includes $1 million for oral health literacy, as requested by the AGD. It also includes language supporting executive level authority and funding for the position of Chief Dental Officer at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The Committee additionally included language urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to move forward with filling the position of Chief Dental Officer at CMS. $36.67 million for training in oral health programs was provided by the House Committee, and of that amount, General Dentistry Residency programs and Preventative Dentistry Residency programs were each provided a $12 million set-aside. The Committee provided $2 million for the Dental Faculty Loan Repayment program.
On June 28, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2019 Labor-HHS bill. In it, the Committee provides $40.763 million for training in oral health programs. Of that amount, General Dentistry Residency programs and Preventative Dentistry Residency programs were each allotted a $10 million set-aside. Although the House bill does not provide a specific funding level for the Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program, it instructs HRSA to give preference to pediatric dentistry faculty when awarding grants.
Later this year, selected provisions from both the House and Senate Labor-HHS funding bills will be incorporated into a consolidated appropriations bill, or omnibus, to be taken up and passed by both chambers. Until that bill is released, it is unknown what the ultimate FY 2019 funding and agency direction will be.
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. The AGD will also urge appropriators to restore equivalency between general dentistry and pediatric dentistry with respect to the Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program.