One Congressman is pushing to expand dental care for veterans beyond those who are fully disabled or with injuries related to the mouth.

US Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla, is pushing for just that by reintroducing legislation he pushed two years ago. The Veterans Early Treatment for Chronic Ailment Resurgence through Examinations (VET CARE) Act would expand dental care and create a four-year pilot program.

Studies show that access to quality dental care contributes to reductions in healthcare costs and serious medical conditions. Despite the obvious benefit of giving veterans greater access to dental care, the Department of Veterans Affairs severely rations access to the services citing its dental departments are underfunded.

Behind the scenes, each VA medical center is allowed to ration access to dental care. So, a veteran who has access to dental at one location may not receive approval at a different facility.

RELATED: CDC To Access Veterans Health Records

Bilirakis, a top lawmaker on the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, hopes to cut through the red tape.

“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. “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 VA. Not only is this legislation good for veterans, it’s good for the VA as a whole.”

Bilirakis argues that providing dental care will lower overall costs while helping veterans stay healthier longer.

This is not the first rodeo for Bilirakis or this bill, which presently enjoys bipartisan support with cosponsors US Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., and US Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla.

RELATED: Voc Rehab Uses New Tele-Counseling Platform

The bill, assuming it uses the same language as in 2017, limits eligibility for the pilot program to veterans between the ages of 40 to 70 with type-2 diabetes.

An explanation of the bill follows:

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall carry out a pilot program to provide outpatient dental services and treatment, and related dental appliances, to eligible veterans enrolled under subsection (c)(3), at no cost to such veterans. Under the pilot program, the Secretary shall determine whether there is a correlation between veterans receiving such services and treatment, and the veterans suffering fewer complications of chronic ailments, thereby yielding a lower cost of care.

Expanding preventative dental care for veterans is one of the many vital expansions veterans will benefit from if the bill becomes law.

For years, I have seen large numbers of veterans with health complications as a direct consequence of VA rationing access to dental care services. Assuming the research is accurate, and it seems likely it is, expanding dental care services should ultimately lower overall costs for the Veterans Health Administration.

More importantly, though, will be the improvement veterans experience in the quality of their daily living.

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42 Comments

  1. The VA level of dental care to those very, very few who qualify is extremely substandard. Complete dental care should be provided to all veterans in the VA Healthcare system and at a much greatly improved standard equal or above private civilian care. I had provided a Move-On petition, but it essentially failed. Not enough veterans replied to get the petition to the Pres and Congress. I went through the mill with the VA trying to get them to a diseased tooth with a root canal and crown. They absolutely refused although I had escalated to my Senator. The head of the dental clinic suggested that I pull the tooth and leave a hold in my mouth. That would be the lowest standard of dental care in the world. I found a dentist in my area who did the root canal and rebuilt the tooth with a large amount of amalgam. We are both in the local historical society, and this dentist had done an exhibit on Civil War dental care. I suspect what he did was a possible Civil War technique. I believe it to be better than what the VA dentist suggested.

    • The dental care I received in Cheyenne since getting the benefit is comparable to the excellent care I received in Japan which is probably the best in the world. 3 month appointments to try to arrest bone loss. bonded a loose tooth to the side teeth the way the Japanese dentist did so it will last. Was done by a high charging dentist in Murrieta, Ca in 2011 while I was visiting my son. The Japanese dentist work had lasted 5 years when he said I would probably lose the tooth in 2. The U S dentist’s work lasted 3 months, but long enough to get back to my Japanese dentist who had studied up on the procedure and did a fix that lasted 8 years. The one I have now feels like it will be the last I need at 78 years of age day after tomorrow.

  2. Well while up and out here in pc land:
    With contractors playing dentist in some VA hospitals will they, if they still have it, 40 mile travel distance rule apply? Didn’t here. Dental and contractors have their own rules.

    If connected at the hip with some medical college how many students will be allowed to play with patients in the same room, same time, sharing their newbie experiences, not knowing who may have caused some severe damages?

    If they screw up and say shatter or break a jaw will they force/allow and pay for second opinions and outside follow up care or FORCE those in the business to at least take simple X-rays of damages? Instead of the entire regime, staff, PAs, associations, professionals, med boards, and cliques covering it all up and going on the attack?

    How will this mesh with those like Johns Hopkins or Bloomberg’s (of course) School of Public Health in the past and present by some claiming any additions or expansions to VA care would be too expensive? Or not related to AO exposure or classified as age related, etc. My links about this is history. “Lowering the cost of care?”

    My trips to the VA dental contractor sure showed how many more were still returning there for their ‘free care’ while being ruined or pins to hold dentures replaced (reported from AO exposure bone loss, etc.) or moved time and time again while living in miserable pain or with infections. Civilians sure didn’t seem to have so many issues like the above.

    Does it cover implants too instead of jacking around with problem gums, dentures, etc?

    Oral meds and such causing more issues with dental care? One must obey and be ‘compliant.’

    We aren’t in Kansas anymore ToTo.

    • you are right on target. I have experienced the very thing you talk about. A new oral surgeon insisted that I could not be fitted with an implant and should have a cantilevered bridge instead. Total screw up. After 2 years the finally send me to my original oral surgeon and he installed an implant with no problem. Now I may have to wait another 2 years to get the crown installed

  3. The proposal was first raised by David Cutler and I in the 2008 campaign. Japan has proven over all health care problems are reduced by taking care of the upper orifice. That means lower overall medical care costs using this preventive medicine approach. Of course we proposed it for everyone. But a first step for getting it would at least get it in the “million vet research program” if not for all veterans.

    Anyone in Congressman Bilirikis’s district could propose that as a first step if he can’t get it for all vets. Getting the first step appears to be what he is trying to do.

    • There was an HMO in California that provided free dental care for Medicare eligible persons in the 1980s. They charged no part b or c premiums. Their profit was strictly form the better health of their beneficiaries. They even provided free glasses and eye care. But that good thing came to an end when the founders sold their company to another HMO which cut the program. I’ve often wondered why the new HMO didn’t go back and look at the old financial records. Sometimes cost cutting is contra productive because it leads to greater costs in a different area. i.e.: from teeth to GI system.

  4. Only problem I see with it is the VA NEVER does anything in a timely manner. Now we will get more vets in the dental system when the VA is unable to keep qualified dentist’s. I have waited over 2 years for dental process. What will happen when we add a half million more to the system without making changes to the VA dental process?

  5. Veterans who reads this and Friends even that isn’t Veteran is not email your Senators or Representative contract the Veteran Affairs Committee passed a new Benefit Law for Disabled Veterans who is 100 percent service connected definitely need to have Cosmetic Dentistry Dentist G4 implants for free because their is no Veteran Medical Centers and don’t have a contract with the Veteran Affairs Administration but unfortunately they have Cosmetic Dentistry Dentist G4 implants Clinics but the majority of the Disabled Veterans is 100 percent service connected definitely need to have Cosmetic Dentistry Dentist G4 implants can’t afford to pay Cosmetic Dentistry Dentist G4 implants and Veterans should is 100 percent service connected should have a right to go any choice of Medical Centers they want too Don’t Surrender Semper Fi.

    • I have had three Dental Implants,at the”Michel E.DeBakey,V.A.Med.Center.” It took them over two years to do only 3 Dental Impants. Now it has been over one year since they began on another 3 Dental Implants. They have Not yet actually Implanted one of those 3 other Dental Implants .
      I have to eat with only the left side of my mouth for years due to Not having any Implants Nor enough teeth on the right side of my mouth.
      We also need a lot mote Dentists at this “V.A.Med. Center ” too.

      • Try paying for them yourself… I have 4 that were knocked out during a training accident about 25 years ago.
        It takes nearly as long in the civilian world, plus add about $5,000 out of your pocket… S I wouldn’t complain about what you’re getting!

    • What about us combat veterans who are 80% because we couldn’t bring ourselves to lie about our injuries to game the system… What do we do?

    • What about us combat veterans who are 80% because we couldn’t bring ourselves to lie about our injuries to game the system… What do we do?

  6. Good dental health equals improves overall health – I am happy to hear that the VA is getting up-to-date and getting on board with including dental health benefits to their healthcare services. Also I am happy to hear that people who are in the position to make positive changes for veterans regarding their benefits are finally taking action and insisting that veterans receive the quality care that they deserve. It is a sad situation when society kicks around the women, children, elderly, disabled and impoverished because they are the most vulnerable. Kindness is Kool. Thanks to all that take the time to do so.

    Peace Out

  7. Here’s my opinion.
    Lake Baldwin VHA, Orlando, Fla. had some great dentists up until most quit! That was in mid 2005 or ’06!
    That’s when I had major dental work done and was given dentures. The dentures were sub par considering what I would have received out in the private sector.
    In my opinion, veterans – no matter what their current disability ratings are – should be allowed to receive (free – if they are 100% t&p) dental work in the private sector.
    This definitely helps with other maladies a veteran could get IF they don’t get regular checkups.

    Lastly, and this could be most important, dental work, in the private sector, has become very reasonable in cost over the past few years. Therefore, it would be financially lucrative for the va to allow vets to use outside dental healthcare!
    Of course, IF I’m right and logical – the VA upper echelon will NEVER go for it.

  8. I went to get a consultation…said I had a leaking crown and that another tooth should be pulled……I went to Ideal dental…no leak and the other tooth needs a root canal a crown.. …great job VA..luckly I don’t qualify for VA dental I would be missing two teeth…….They do need to improve to include all…..healthy teeth lead to a more healthy lifestyle.

  9. I’m 100% T&P, Agent Orange.
    I’ve received very good dental care at Puget Sound VA, to include an implant, and 2 crowns. This in addition to routine cleaning and x-rays.
    The equipment utilized appears to be state of current dental equipment. Although the dentist is a student, his skill level is very good and all work I s overseen by senior staff.
    Perhaps it is subjective, depending on which Facility is used.
    Although the entire process is taking 8 months, rather than 3-4, I’m pleased and greatful for the care.

  10. Hello Ben and the rest of the brothers and sisters at Arms!
    I am a proud voter of Con: Gus Bilirakis myself!
    I feel very priviledged to live in Tampa area! I wish the rest of the Congress and Senate follow his examble!
    MSG VAM

    • Send his office an email suggesting he add the “million vet research group” or substitute it for the 40+ group. the 40+ group will be larger but it won’t provide “all age” data. It’s clear he is advocating a study. It should cover all age groups if possible. But don’t let the enemy of the good be the better. Best to get what you can.

  11. I’ve been to a Dentist one time since I retired….17 years ago….with a 90% disability rating. I had a crown fall off a few days ago. The tooth is black and think maybe dead. Or horribly infected. I don’t know but I can’t afford to go to a Dentist. Crowns are like $1000 here. Probably only a couple options if it’s infected. Unfortunately VA Dentist will probably be just like their Doctors. If we could just use civilian medical and dental options Imthink alot more of us would be healthier and in some cases…..alive!

    • Minimal care is provided on a consult from your PCP. If it get infected and you have any symptoms go to your PCP. You’ll be treated with antibiotics to cure the infection and then referred to a dentist to pull the tooth. Many older people are missing teeth without dentures. It is just the way it is for the poor now. You could apply for help to one of the VSOs but don’t expect any.

      They preach a stream to get contributions but eat them up in executive salaries. Thanks for your input deceased Papa Bush. What a shitty recommendation to entrepreneur as a charity organization. That is how the rich are supposed to give back not how the con man is supposed to get rich.

  12. Hello Mr. Krause: My name is Anhtony Austin Sr., I am a service connected disabled Viet-Nam Era U.S.Navy Veteran. I have just encountered the new VOC-REHAB Appeals process. Once the denial has been processed by the COUNSELOR. The denial is quickly processed and passed up to the next level without the Veterans Knowledge in order for it to be denied at the next level. The nexus behind this method is to stall, delay, and to deny the Vet a proper process for any type of appeal. After I received my denial, I quickly contacted the Counselor Mr Bruce Jones here at VARO office located at 477 Michigan Ave. Detroit Michigan 48226 12th floor. I emailed and called him to inform him that I would be the office the next day (today 4/14/2019) to pick up his determination for denial and the criteria for denial. Upon arrival, I was told that I could not have any documentaion with regards to the denial. I told him that the information is required in order to perfect my appeal. They would not allow my wife into the office, nor would allow me to speak to a supervisor. I did not scream or holler at the counselor, however this was his procedure to bait me into a argument. I continued to request a supervisor for clarification of documentation, however request were denied. Another co-worker was bought into the office who told me that I was denied because I was retired and collecting SSR retirement, and not retired from any government agency. I continued to request the female co-workers name to write it down. When I requested in writing what she was saying. Security was called and I was escorted from the office. Out side the office, I was told by security that I had to leave. This is what Veterans will have to face with the new appeals process. In addition, It must be noted that the VA process of labeling certain Veterans as Terrorist, is the immediate cause for most of the suicides being committed. Also a Criminal and Congressional Investigation is Demanded. Something is wrong this needs to be addressed ASAP. Thank You I await your reply. Anthony Austin Sr.

  13. The VBA hooks ya with the defacto benefits, then the VHA reels you in, and then once you become dependent on the VA and realize the Racketeering Influenced Criminal Organisation has become and the fraudulent schemes the VA/DoD/SSA from generating profit from universities, biomed companies and various contract companies harvesting veterans data for purposes of using individual men and women as unknowing “human subjects” for corporate profit. The VA/DoD/SSA, while claiming services veterans have earned are a benefit, even as the each federal agency are exploiting individual financial rights, moral and ethical human principles of medicine and legal system… the joke is on the veterans using any benefit from the Government… Plus veterans have no rights as United States Citizens, only Non-resident aliens are protected under the U.S. Constitution.

    In other words, the commercial energy aka equity from veterans are being profited off of the same piece of shit organizations i.e. Department of Veterans Affairs which in turn sell valuable information to the highest bidder.

    It’s all a fucking sham. Fuck the VA and learn about Law Merchant and generally accepted accounting principles, then people will figure out how fucking corrupt and evil the federal, state and local governments actually are. Oh and look up what terrorism insurance for lawyers/inside traders/judges and then people may have a better inclination that the enemies of the United States Constitution and People of the U.S.A. have infilitrated government agencies awhile ago.

    • your right Law Merchant, I ,along with others were used for human subjects, before, durning and After, Desert Storm, I have no rights what’s so ever as a Veteran, Bill of rights, civil rights, gone, JD Power, wrote me and ask how my C and P went, really who gave them the info? and why? What if they reduce the Veteran, are they going demand the Crowns back?

  14. iMPROVED Dental Care for veterans is I have been paying forDelta veterans dental but almost everything is not covered or rejected.

    • Benjamin and all, just one more fraud care item for the Republican Congressman to get reelected. To everyone, just because veterans have a dental service connected condition or just because the veterans have a service connected rating of 100% does not mean the veterans will receive the proper dental care. Sorry, but, those who believe veterans receive care because of their rating are totally uninformed. VA screws every veteran. I have lots of facts to point out that government involvement in healthcare has destroyed healthcare and lives. I will illustrate my facts later from numbers to prove it.

      • I know that I am somewhat late to responding to the articles but I am very consumed. Though, I will comment for what it is worth. Actually, in my opinion, they could careless. It is all about what suits them and they are not even the ones who are on the receiving end of the bureaucracy. All Veterans should have dental care. But like everything else they like to wallow in identity politics. Put people into groups instead of treating veterans as individuals. My point is I do believe from what I have noticed the VA sabotages veterans who are drawing money from them or tries to dictate what will be and what will not be. From my take if veterans can receive dental care without being strangled like the veterans who are on compensation, this will be positive. Getting to my points, back in 2008 before Former President Obama destroyed the healthcare system, yes, the healthcare industry offered real Medical care with being more affordable and with being a better quality of care. Take private sector insurance for example, Verizon, a dental implant was $2110 out the door. Now, take a look at difference in cost of medications, Hydrocodone cost Verizon $2.87 and cost the patient only $0.39 cents. And, the Cephalexin which is an antibiotic cost Verizon $6.80 and cost the patient $1.43 for the 500mg tablets. Overall, the patient only paid $1.82 for the total cost of Medicine for a dental implant under the Verizon private sector Medical care insurance policy. Verizon private Medical care insurance was part of the employee benefits program that the company offered to it’s employees. The Verizon healthcare insurance agency only paid $9.67 for the total cost of Medicine. All of this was before Former President Obama destroyed the healthcare industry. So no one can tell me that private sector Medical care or any type of Medical care for that matter was not affordable at that time and before Obama got his hands into. Because it was affordable before Obama was elected. Government lies and lies. Just like HHS Alex Azar is doing right now with the Socialized Importation Drug plan. More underneath this too. Government needs to get their hands out of health care period. Actually, it is not about Healthcare or Medical care. When the government is involved, no one knows. Physicians and nurses are trained to doctor and heal. Not murder and kill like the federal government likes to do with rationing care. Sad.

      • Today, the cost of a dental implant is $5000+ plus and the medication costs are thru the roof. All points to government overregulation, pharmacy middle man, and crony Capitalism with government subsidizing the insurance companies. Anytime the government subsidizes anything it always generates higher costs for the consumers. Just like how the Republicans like cheap labor with the illegal immigrants. Democrats want the votes. This is actually adding to our debt because the government having to subsidize the low income workers contributes to this. Government officials take everything for granted and believes that there will always be plenty of money which is far from the truth. It is not their money so they do not care. They just take from the American people and spend the hell out of the funds. Not an iota of a fiscal
        responsible bone among any of them. Ben, though retracting back to the Voc Rehab article, you say the VA employees care about the veterans in Voc rehab. I disagree. Benjamin, the VA Voc Rehab employees care about themselves only. They serve their own agenda. Benjamin, you say the herd mentality, actually honestly what purpose does this serve? The VA just plays games with veteran lives. The VA is a bunch of many Nancy Pelosises and Chuck Schumers. Benjamin, if any VA employee cared then he or she would stand by, stand with, and stand up for what is right, ethical, and humane for the veterans. I am referring to conviction to stand above the herd mentality. The VA looks and treats everything like a joke or a game. Not a sincere procedure or action taken in that agency. Too many hands involved and the overregulation contributes to clouding the truth, contributes to subjectivity, and wipes out the logic and reason. Ben, you use logic and reason. I agree with you on this. For the VA Voc Rehab to determine what the veterans’ tracks will be are all one sided. Now, is it the veteran who is being retrained or the VA counselor? The VA employees cannot decide what education programs or what type of employment opportunities are most suitable for veterans. They may have educated guesses; but, ultimately, the truth lays with the veterans themselves. In other words, the VA employees do not walk in the veterans’ shoes as in the ones who are being retrained. VA Voc Rehab is there to serve as resources to assist the veterans and to guide the veterans to reach the goals of their own choices for their own potential employment area or their own potential career path. Ben, you say they made it more difficult for veterans, case and point, this just shows right here that they really do not care. Ben, how can you say the VA really cares about retraining veterans when they are acting just the opposite? Sincerity, principled, and conviction to serve in the best interest of veterans are missing values throughout the VA system. Actually, this is applicable throughout the federal government towards the American people as well. I appreciate Attorney General William Barr. He is a man of honorable diginity. We need more government officials just like him. Changed topic a little but it all goes together in the running of the Federal government to serve the American people as a whole.

      • Benjamin, a couple of points. Back in the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation article, you mentioned the VA Voc Rehab Counselors care about the veterans. You had mentioned the herd mentality. Could you have spoken with a degree of intellectual dishonesty when you mentioned the VA Voc Rehab Counselors care about the veterans? Benjamin, when people really care about issues or something or someone, those people fight to infinity to do what is lawful, ethical, and humane regardless of how they may personally feel about the situation at hand as in the Herd Mentality. People who really care stand up to do what is right by the veterans by following the regulations or statutes and while honoring or adhering to the facts as how they are presented. Benjamin, I have more than a full plate. I personally decided months and months ago that I would not reapply for Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation. Benjamin, I am taking care of my own to do’s and have been for a while. Take care.

      • Benjamin, when people care, they are passionate about the issues or something or someone or someone’s. They stand with conviction no matter what. Benjamin, the VA runs on subjectivity. What I was told by a VA Social Worker is the morale is low among the employees and the veterans. What I was told by another VA Social Worker is she can retire in this many days and she is counting. Benjamin, when the VA employees are struggling themselves from working in the VA environment, how can they really care about their jobs or deliver care and assistance to the veterans? See when the VA employees realize what they are doing to the veterans is not right or not lawful or not in the best interest of the veterans, of course, the VA employees will be stuggling and have low morale. Those who have a conscience. Just Human nature. Occasionally, I run into VA employees out in the community. So when you say the Herd Mentality, they cling together to justify their actions while knowing they are harming the veterans or while knowing they are taking actions that are not in the best interest of the veterans. When others join in or join together, then according to some people, it makes whatever is happening become ethical or humane or legal. Just like what is occurring and has been occurring among the Democrat Leadership. If everyone joins in then it makes it okay while in reality many veterans are getting denied schooling or retraining or healthcare that would ultimately help them to get into the workforce or help them be able to live healthier lives or help them with whatever the issues maybe. So Benjamin, if you say they care, they most certainly are not taking actions that demonstrate that they do care. From what I see they are not allowed to care or they will be hung themselves just like they are hanging many of the veterans.

    • I hate to say this…. Just wait until all the bernistas and AOC’nistas get their way and all the millenials get single payer HC.

      they’ll get the VA issue then, but it’ll be magnified x100… I’ll bet all the fist pumping socialists will be singing quite a different tune!

  15. Just announced: “As A Crow Flies VA Dental Expansion Act”- VA is pleased to announce similar to those of us old enough to have a parent tie a string to a tooth then to a doorknob then slam door, ripping offending tooth out; same with VA Crow Care, except those darn crows tend to fly in circles formation and early tests by RAND report test veterans tangled in a spider web of string and crow shit, and extremely dizzy and test vets chose to rip their own tooth out mid-air of the gruesome effort by VA Crow Care….your mileage may vary.

    The VA Crows Care

  16. Why is it that Japanese have such bad dental coverage or teeth then?

    Funny, Japanese say exactly the opposite, they would prefer American dental care to Japanese. Also, Japanese medical is also suspect, I know of several buddies who have been permanently disabled being treated by JN doctors… As a former JN girlfriend opened my eyes to in 1998…it is commonplace for JNs to buy their way through med or dental school! 3 crowns I had put in while in the Navy in Guam, 22 years until I needed replacement! I don’t recall anyone rushing to Japan for medical or especially dental work, I lived there for 8 years as much as I love Japan, IDK about medical or dental!

  17. My wife and I traveled to Japan to get our dental before I got TDIU. Now she is the only one. She is Japanese. Japanese medical is suspect? With consistently the highest longevity and quality of life health wise, number 1 or 2 in the world depending upon the year while the U S is 37th? 18 places below being in 19th place in the 19 industrialized countries.

    I’ve been married to a Japanese woman for 47 years. Spent 10 years on Guam and 20 in Japan returning to Wyoming in 2012.

    Your buddies would have had much worse experience in the U S unless they could afford the high end. You get what you pay for. Your references are suspect from my experience. But then my wife was friends with the assistant director of the City Hospital in Kumamoto.

    • Aha… That’s the magic words… Friends in high places!
      I lived in Japan for a long time, the Japanese are where I get the bad, well maybe mediocre is more correct instead of bad. My GF told me this and I know 2 guys that were permanently disabled from malpractice… Lupus, medicine induced and a nicked large intestine caused septis… He was lucky!!

      As far as longevity, my dad lived to be 90, grandparents almost a 100 (93 and 98), Japanese diet is the trick not medicine! Same as my grandparents, Italian decent, Mediterranean diets. Just like the Japanese, my dad smoked like a chimney!

      • My Kumamoto experience doesn’t account for the equally good Tokyo experience. And longevity and quality of life (extended mobility and mental acuity) for a higher percentage of their population than the U S. Again, we are 37th in the world consistently over the last few years. Japan has either been #1 or 2. Your observations do not match the collected medical data. My nephew died at 53 in the U S because a physician didn’t do a test that should have been done. For every case you can bring up about Japan there are 36 in the U S or we wouldn’t be 37th.

        You have been sold the AMA propaganda. Take your Kool-Aid today?

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