Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) was honored by Oral Health America and the Dental Trade Alliance for his work expanding children’s access to oral health care and helping to reduce health disparities in Maryland and nationwide. The organizations recognized Senator Cardin at an event on Capitol Hill, where he addressed nearly 100 oral health leaders and supporters on the impact of oral health disparities on the nation’s health and well-being.
“For too long, being a member of a minority group in America has meant less access to health care, less treatment, and less research focused on relevant conditions,” said Senator Cardin. “For some, lack of oral health care leads to the worst possible outcomes. Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver of Prince George’s County, Maryland, lost his life after a tooth infection because our health care system failed him. Inequalities in health care continue to exact an enormous toll but the status quo is changing with passage of the 2009 reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the newly elevated National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. We’re eliminating gaps in coverage, expanding access to care, and increasing research to improve the overall quality of health care for minorities.”
Senator Cardin has led several successful legislative efforts promoting oral health and reducing inequalities in healthcare. The 2009 reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) included his provision creating a guaranteed dental benefit. He also authored legislation establishing an Office of Minority Health at six agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and elevating the National Institute of Health’s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities to an institute.
Oral Health America is a national, non-profit organization connecting communities with resources to increase access to dental care, education, and advocacy. The Dental Trade Alliance is a trade organization made up of dental distributors, dental laboratories, and manufacturers. The organizations are collaborating on a promotion raising awareness of the importance of oral health to overall health. They recently commissioned a survey revealing that in the past year, 35 percent of those who regularly visit the dentist have cut back, and those who have cut back are disproportionately low income, less educated and in minority households.