Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne says it’s now up to the Senate to pass a bill Axne co-sponsored that would force insurance companies to cover dental procedures and oral surgeries needed to treat rare birth defects.
The bill cleared the U.S. House this week with bipartisan support. “The Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act literally came from two moms from Dallas County who visited me and inspired this legislation,” Axne says. “Jennifer Steele and Sarah Ward — their children were born with rare genetic disorders that affect their ability to eat because their teeth don’t grow in properly.”
There are medical procedures that help, but Axne says insurance companies are classifying the surgeries as cosmetic procedures and denying coverage.
“That’s not acceptable whatsoever,” Axne says. “These children can’t eat properly because their teeth aren’t fully in, that leads to digestive problems, digestive problems lead to internal problems. We can help them with this and that’s why this needs to get done.”
Children with this condition may have missing teeth or teeth that are shaped differently and have defective enamel. The condition often makes it difficult to chew, swallow and even speak.
Iowa Senator Joni Ernst has introduced an identical bill in the Senate and Axne says she hopes that means the Senate will be able to pass it soon and send it to the president. The bill passed the U.S. House early this week on a 310-110 vote.