WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a longtime advocate for pediatric dental coverage and member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee, issued the following statement after his amendment relating to pediatric oral health was included in the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res. 11). Amendment 364 establishes a deficit-neutral reserve fund to improve oral health care for children and pregnant women under Medicaid.
“Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease in America. Bacteria associated with early childhood cavities and tooth decay are often passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn child. Despite our best efforts, 80 percent of dental disease in children is concentrated in 25 percent of the population. Children from low income families face inordinately high barriers to receiving needed care. We know that dental disease can harm a child’s performance in school, we know it can cause other health problems, and, sadly, we know it can be deadly. We also know that dental disease is preventable, and that is why I am glad the Senate adopted this amendment.
“The overall budget was a bad deal for the American people, it fell short on the most basic test of fairness and proportionality. While I did not vote for final passage, I am pleased the Senate has gone on record as being supportive of federal programs designed to improve dental health in expecting mothers and children.”
Senator Cardin led the effort in the Senate to ensure that pediatric dental care was an essential health benefit under the Affordable Care Act. In 2007, Senator Cardin began fighting to ensure all children could access quality dental care after a 12-year old boy from Prince George’s County, Md., died from complications following an impacted tooth that should have been addressed by basic dental coverage.