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Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Grants: Enhancing Health Care Workforce Education and Training


Sec. 5304 Alternative Dental Health Care Providers Demonstration Project


  • Grants. The Secretary of Health and Human Services has authority to award grants to fifteen eligible entities for the purpose of increasing access to dental care in rural and underserved areas by training or employing “alternative dental health care providers.”155 The ACA defines “alternative health care providers” as inclusive of “community dental health coordinators, advance practice dental hygienists, independent dental hygienists, supervised dental hygienists, primary care physicians, dental therapists, dental health aides, and” other professionals within the Secretary’s discretion.156
  • Eligible Entities. The Secretary may award the grants to higher education institutions, partnerships between public and private entities, federally qualified health centers, Indian Health Service facilities or tribal organizations, State and county public health clinics, Indian tribe health facilities, and public hospitals that are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (or operate “within a dental education program in an accredited institution), comply with the Secretary’s application requirements, and certify their compliance with State licensing requirements.157
  • Funding. Congress appropriated funds “as necessary” to conduct the demonstration projects.158 The Secretary must provide a minimum of 4 million dollars to grantees for use over a five year testing period.159 The Secretary may disburse a maximum of 20% of funding to grantees for the purpose of planning the demonstration project and may disburse a minimum of 15% during each subsequent grant year.160 The demonstration projects must occur within two years and conclude within 7 years of enactment.161

Evaluation. The Secretary, through contract with the Director of the Institute of Medicine, must evaluate the programs. The evaluation must “provide analysis, based upon quantitative and qualitative data, regarding access to dental health care in the United States.”162



  • 155. Affordable Care Act §5304; 42 U.S.C. 256g-1(a)(1).
  • 156. Affordable Care Act §5304; 42 U.S.C. 256g-1(a)(2).
  • 157. Affordable Care Act §5304; 42 U.S.C. 256g-1(c).
  • 158. Affordable Care Act §5304; 42 U.S.C. 256g-1(h).
  • 159. Affordable Care Act §5304; 42 U.S.C. 256g-1(d)(1).
  • 160. Affordable Care Act §5304; 42 U.S.C. 256g-1(d)(2).
  • 161. Affordable Care Act §5304; 42 U.S.C. 256g-1(b).
  • 162. Affordable Care Act §5304; 42 U.S.C. 256g-1(f).