June 2, 2015
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Pennsylvania Dental Association Honors State Lawmakers for Efforts to Improve Access to Dental Care
Sen. Corman and Rep. Adolph receive PDA’s Kay Thompson Award
The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) today presented state Sen. Jake Corman (R- Centre) and state Rep. William Adolph (R-Delaware) with the “Kay Thompson Outstanding Legislator Award” for their efforts in helping to improve access to quality oral health care for the underserved. The awards were presented at a rally during PDA’s annual Day on the Hill, where dentists, dental students and health advocates voice their support for improving oral health care policies.
Dr. Wade Newman, PDA President, said Corman, the Senator Majority Leader, and Adolph, the House Appropriations Chairman, have worked tirelessly to improve access to quality dental care for Pennsylvanians. Both legislators were instrumental in restoring funding to the Dental Lifeline Network’s Donated Dental Services (DDS) program. Under the program, volunteer dentists provide free care to patients who are elderly, disabled, or in someway unable to receive the care.
“Senator Corman and Representative Adolph understand that there is a great need for increased access to quality oral health care in Pennsylvania,” Dr. Newman said. “There are many people who don’t receive the care they need for a variety of reasons. Encouraging volunteer and younger dentists to pursue practicing in underserved areas helps fill a need in the state and allows dentists meet a patient’s needs regardless of their unique circumstances.”
Dr. Kay Thompson served as the Third District Trustee to the American Dental Association (1993-97) and president of PDA (1989-90). This award honors her commitment to the dental community and PDA and is presented to legislators who make the dental profession and oral health a priority.
At the rally, Dr. Maria Tacelosky, Clinic Director of the Dental Health Clinic in Berwick, Columbia County, detailed the adverse effects of Medical Assistance (MA) cuts in dental services on patients in need. She said eliminating root canals, crowns and periodontal procedures, and limiting dentures to once in a lifetime forces MA patients to make difficult decisions that could impact their overall health.
“Access to oral health care is critical to overall health,” said Dr. Tacelosky. “Your mouth is the gateway to the body, often serving as a way of detecting the early signs and symptoms of systemic disease.”
The General Assembly last year increased funding for the state health care practitioner loan forgiveness program. The program provides loan repayment up to $100,000 for a two-year, full-time commitment from the dentist to serve in an area with a shortage of dentists. PDA is seeking to increase that amount to encourage more dentists to locate to Pennsylvania and work in underserved areas.
Maira Estrada, a dental student at Temple University, thanked Sen. Corman and Rep. Adolph for the increase in funding for the loan forgiveness program. However, she urged lawmakers to consider increased funding to keep dentists in Pennsylvania.
Estrada said the rising cost of student loans for dental school is making the profession appear unaffordable to prospective students and keeping new dentists from serving in underserved areas. According to the American Dental Education Association, the cost of student loan debt has grown more than 100 percent in the past 10 years. The average debt for dental school graduates is nearly $250,000.
About the Pennsylvania Dental Association
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 5,500 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA’s mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. For more information on the PDA, visit padental.org