Hunter, Collins Legislation Will Provide Free Dental Care for Chicago-Area Veterans
Bill Passes Illinois General Assembly on Memorial Day
SPRINGFIELD – New legislation paving the way for a first-of-its-kind, state-of-the-art oral care center located on Chicago’s near West Side is making its way to the desk of State of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker thanks to the efforts of State Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) and State Representative Lakesia Collins (D-Chicago).
House Bill 690 will allow the dentists from Aspen Dental to provide much-needed dental care to underserved Illinois veterans. Dentists from other states will be able to practice under a temporary license to care for those in need at the Aspen Dental Management Inc. Oral Care Center in Chicago, which is expected to open in 2022.
The bill, which will help veterans receive dental care, gained unanimous, final passage in the Senate on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31. The bill passed the Illinois House 117-0 and the Senate 58-0 and now advances to the Governor’s desk.
Representative Collins, a first-term lawmaker and Secretary for the Illinois Legislative Joint Black Caucus, and Senator Hunter, Majority Caucus Chair, said they will be contacting the Governor directly and asking him to support this groundbreaking bill.
“There is a massive need for dental services in our community and oral care for the underserved and veterans in our area,” said Representative Collins. “Many U.S. veterans are homeless or disadvantaged and are not eligible for dental benefits through the Veterans Administration. When I found out about this project, I was excited to be the chief sponsor and work with many groups to find a bill that will provide more dental care services for the West Side.”
“This legislation will allow fully-licensed dentists in good standing to treat patients at the center, overseen by an Illinois-licensed dental team,” said Senator Hunter. “We all know that dental care is a key factor in someone’s overall health. Dentists from other states should be able to come together here in Illinois for the purpose of training and practicing. When approximately one in four adults suffer from untreated tooth decay, we should not be turning away those who can provide this kind of care. I am excited for Aspen Dental to open a facility in Chicago. The Near West Side will greatly benefit from having more dentists available.”
Senator Hunter is also in charge of implementing the Legislative Black Caucus health care pillar in the Senate.
The new Oral Care Center being developed by Aspen Dental Management Inc. is a facility that will bring together industry-leading clinicians and thought leaders to train hundreds of Illinois-licensed and other state-licensed oral health professionals from the independently-owned Aspen Dental branded practices around the nation in modern dental technology and clinical procedures. The center will simultaneously provide Chicago’s underserved veterans with dental care – completely free to qualifying patients.
Collins and Hunter also thanked State Representatives Mary Flowers (D) 31st District and La Shawn K. Ford (D) 8th District for helping to build a coalition of support. for the bill. Aspen Dental is the largest and fastest-growing branded network of dental practices in the U.S. with more than 885 locations in 43 states.
Since 2014, Aspen Dental Management Inc. launched its “Healthy Mouth Movement,” and in the last seven years, the independent practice owners and dentists of Aspen Dental and their teams across the country have provided free care to more than 27,000 veterans and people in need.
“The independent practice owners and dentists of Aspen Dental from around the nation will provide high-quality, safe care for qualifying patients at the facility, including routine and advanced procedures, such as extractions, fillings, X-rays, root canal treatments, dental implants and restorations, said Dr. Arwinder Judge, Chief Clinical Officer for Aspen Dental Management Inc., “We commend Rep. Collins and Senate Leader Hunter for identifying the need for more dental services to the underserved and underrepresented in their community.”
The General Assembly has 30 days to send the bill to the Governor and he has 60 days from that to act on the legislation.