ELSA: Promoting change for children with dental congenital anomalies

This past April, as part of the ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day in Washington D.C, 1,000 dentists and dental students went to Capitol Hill to lobby for the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA), legislation that would help children with congenital anomalies. First- and second-year dental students learn about dental congenital anomalies such as ectodermal dysplasia, cleft lip and palate, skeletal and maxillofacial deformities, hypodontia and enamel hypoplasia. Third- and fourth-year students may even have the opportunity to treat patients with these anomalies.

Despite the prevalence of these congenital anomalies in the population, a lack of insurance coverage often prevents these patients from receiving oral maxillofacial care. Many families with children with congenital anomalies are often denied insurance coverage for corrective procedures, as insurance companies consider them to be cosmetic. ELSA would help change this.

This past February, Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) reintroduced this bipartisan legislation. ELSA requires health insurance plans to cover medically necessary services resulting from congenital abnormalities. It also stipulates that such coverage includes services and procedures that functionally repair or restore any missing or abnormal body part that is medically necessary to achieve normal body functioning or appearance, and clarifies that this includes adjunctive dental, orthodontic or prosthodontic support.

Read the rest of the article in the November/December 2019 issue of Contour magazine.

~Patrick Campbell, Marquette ’20

Patrick Campbell

Patrick Campbell is a fourth-year student at Marquette University School of Dentistry.

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