New year, new push to get dental care for veterans

Matt Saintsing
January 09, 2019 - 4:50 pm

Photo by Jim Schultz/Record Searchlight-Redding

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With 2018 now gone, and with it the 115th Congress, federal lawmakers left a lot on the table that would help veterans nationwide. One such bill would require the VA to provide dental care. 

The legislation, which was reintroduced by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) on Jan. 3, require the VA to provide dental care to veterans, just as they provide medical care. 

Where it stands now, only veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 100 percent, those with a service-connected dental condition, former prisoners of war, and some homeless vets, are eligible to open up and say “Ahhh” for a VA dentist. 

RELATED: Should all vets get dental care? This one says, absolutely

The vast majority of veterans are stuck buying dental insurance in the private sector. 

The bill would also give the VA five years to build up the capacity to provide comprehensive dental care, such as hiring dental staff and building additional facilities. And it’s supported by the Coalition of Veterans Organizations who are sending letters to Congressional staffers to shore up support and hopefully gain some co-sponsors. 

“Dental care is not merely a matter of cosmetics, but rather, is an essential part of healthcare, as poor dental care is linked to diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and many other diseases,” the letter reads. 

“The cost of this care would be outweighed by the care that would not need to be provided for these other diseases.” 

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