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September 6, 2017

Representative/Senator:

As the nation’s largest, most experienced dental benefits provider, Delta Dental urges Congress to support a five-year funding extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Since 1954, Delta Dental’s mission has been to improve oral health care for all Americans.  Through its nationwide network of 39 member companies, Delta Dental covers more than 75 million Americans, and offers the country’s largest dental network with nearly 156,000 participating dentists.  In 2016, our member companies administered benefits to over 170,000 children who utilize the CHIP program.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is the most common preventable chronic disease of children aged six to 11 years and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years.  In low-income families, 25 percent of children aged five to 19 years are affected by untreated tooth decay, nearly twice the amount of children in higher-income families.  The Mayo Clinic finds that the pain associated with tooth decay can interfere with school work, nutrition, self-esteem and, in rare cases, can lead to life-threatening infections.  The discomfort and side effects are easily preventable with regular oral health care including fluoride, daily brushing, and dental sealants.

Since the addition of comprehensive dental coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, many states have begun to narrow the gap of income-based health disparities in oral health care.  Stand‐alone dental plans (SADPs), including those offered by Delta Dental, are designed to address the preventive and predictable nature of oral care.  Many states have chosen SADPs to provide unique expertise in administering dental benefits and to help provide equal oral health opportunities for every child.

Delta Dental’s long‐standing commitment to improving the oral health of children through member company participation in CHIP has resulted in a vast improvement in access to dental care for program participants.  As recommended by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, we ask Congress to authorize a five-year funding extension of CHIP prior to the September 30, 2017 expiration, to ensure all children will continue to receive the continuity of coverage necessary for overall health and well-being.

 

Sincerely,

Jason Daughn

Vice President, Government Relations

Delta Dental Plans Association