Dental Care for Veterans

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Proposal To Expand Dental Care for Veterans Introduced in House

Supported by studies showing dental care’s effect on reducing the cost of healthcare and incidence of severe medical conditions, Florida Congressman Gus Bilirakis who is a leading Republican leader on the U.S. House Veterans Affairs Committee has re-introduced a proposal seeking to expand dental care to veterans.

In May, Bilirakis brought back the proposal: the “Veterans Early Treatment for Chronic Ailment Resurgence through Examinations (VET CARE) Act,” to expand dental care for veterans and design a four-year pilot program. Presently, only veterans with service-related injuries and fully disabled receive dental benefits through Veterans Affairs (V.A.).

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much on behalf of our country, they deserve access to high-quality healthcare, and that includes dental care,” said Bilirakis, reported Sunshine State News. The Florida congressman added that “The VET CARE Act will get the ball rolling to expand access to dental care for our nation’s heroes and could result in lower overall health care costs for the V.A. Not only is this legislation good for veterans, it’s good for the V.A. as a whole.”

The five members of Congress cosponsoring the bill include U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla. and U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.

A statement from Bilirakis’ office also said, “Since the V.A. spends most of its healthcare costs on treating veterans with chronic ailments, like diabetes, heart conditions, and more, dental coverage would help ensure a healthier veteran population and bring those costs down,” reported Sunshine State News.

Bilirakis initially introduced the proposal in March 2017. The congressman, at that time, was the vice chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee in a House controlled by the GOP.

Presently, veterans with recent service are can avail a one-time course of free dental care. However, they need to apply for dental care within 180 days of discharge.

The VA provides dental care to more than 500,000 eligible veterans at more than 200 locations in the U.S., including Puerto Rico and Alaska. The level of dental care depends on factors such as the current state of living and health and military service history.

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