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At Issue

Access to oral health care services by underserved populations is affected by many factors. Providing incentives for dentists to establish practices in underserved areas could help alleviate a significant barrier to obtaining care.

Student indebtedness is a significant issue for graduating dental students and makes it difficult for young dentists to establish practices in underserved areas. The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) reports that dental school graduates' student loan debt now exceeds $156,000 on average. In addition, the cost of starting new offices can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Accordingly, recent graduates have increasingly shied away from going into low-density and underserved areas because of these overwhelming financial burdens.

While initiatives at the state level have been introduced to bring more healthcare providers into underserved areas, more needs to be done to adequately entice dental school graduates to locate into HRSA designated underserved areas.

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In the News

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ADA Priorities

The ADA proposes that the Small Business Administration (SBA) encourage dentists and other healthcare providers to locate into underserved areas by offering a favorable package of financial incentives through the 7(a) loan program. These incentives would include:

  • Eliminate 7(a) loan origination fees for health providers
  • Increase the 7(a) guarantees offered to lenders from 85 to 90%
  • Incorporate reduced interest rates for 7(a) program loans for health providers

Over 1,000 dentists currently participate in the SBA loan program (averaging about $330,000 per loan). The ADA believes that with the right SBA incentives, more health care providers can be attracted into health profession shortage areas. States have proven that financial incentives do influence a provider’s decision to locate into certain areas. With the right mix of additional incentives we can help close the health care gap that currently exists.

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Contact Us

For additional information, please contact:

Federal Affairs
1111 14th Street NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
Fax: 202.898.2437

State Government Affairs
ADA Chicago Headquarters
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
Fax: 312.440.3539

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