(Chicago) – Governor J.B. Pritzker today signed House Bill 690 into law, which will improve access to high-quality dental care for underserved veterans.
The Illinois House and Senate unanimously passed the bill on Memorial Day, May 31. House Bill 690 will allow dentists from Aspen Dental to provide much-needed dental care to vulnerable populations in a first-of-its-kind, state-of the-art oral care center – completely free of charge to patients.
Aspen Dental will open the oral care center located on Chicago’s near West side where dentists from Aspen Dental will be able to care for those in need. The oral care center being built by Aspen Dental Management Inc., in Chicago is expected to open in early 2022.
“The legislation I’ll sign today will expand access to dental care to our veterans and Illinois residents in need,” Governor J.B. Pritzker said. “Oral health is integral to overall health and access to dental services is essential to promote and maintain good oral health. Yet, those who need dental care like our veterans are least likely to receive it. I’m proud to say that with this law, Illinois will be the first state in the nation to provide a center dedicated to removing barriers and providing access to high-quality oral care to those in need.”
There are more than 727,000 veterans in the state of Illinois, who could potentially benefit from the oral care services that will be provided thanks to this this new law.
House Bill 690 was made possible thanks to the efforts of Representative Lakesia Collins and (D-Chicago) and Representative Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago).
Representative Collins, a first-term lawmaker and Secretary for the Illinois Legislative Joint Black Caucus, and Senator Hunter, Majority Caucus Chair, contacted the Governor directly and asked him to support this groundbreaking bill. Illinois State Representatives Mary Flowers (D) 31st District and La Shawn K. Ford (D) 8th District helped to build a coalition of support for the bill.
“There is a massive need for dental services in our community and oral care for the underserved and veterans in our area,” Representative Collins said. “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.”
“The Near West side will greatly benefit from having high quality dental care available, especially for residents that have served our country,” Senator Hunter said. “Our veterans have done so much for this country, and do not always receive enough love in return for their sacrifices. Making sure they have accessible dental care is just one way we can show our gratitude.”
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.
“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,” Dr. Arwinder Judge, Chief Clinical Officer for Aspen Dental Management Inc., said. “We commend Representative Collins and Senate Leader Hunter for identifying the need for more dental services to the underserved and underrepresented in their community.”
“For more than 20 years, the independent practice owners of Aspen Dental have led advocacy efforts to break down the barriers to better dental care, improving access to quality, affordable, patient-focused care, providing quality of life to patients, and boosting local economy with creating jobs,” Bob Fontana, CEO of Aspen Dental Management Inc., said. “Our commitment to the residents of Illinois is evident not only in moving our national headquarters to Chicago, but also with opening the nation’s first oral care center on the West side of Chicago.”
Aspen Dental is the largest and fastest-growing branded network of dental practices in the U.S. with more than 910 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.
“On behalf of the independent practice owners of Aspen Dental and Illinois veterans, Aspen Dental Management Inc., commends Governor Pritzker for signing this important bill into law today,” Fontana said.