Recently, our nation commemorated the 50th anniversary of Medicaid, the federal-state health care program that serves nearly 60 million Americans. In the half century since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicaid into law, it has helped to transform the American health care system, providing access to care to many of our most vulnerable friends, neighbors and family members.

But Congress left out a key component of good health care – dental care. While dental coverage is part of the Medicaid benefit package for children, it is optional for adults and many people on Medicaid suffer from poor oral health. It is time to close that gap…

Congress should pass the bipartisan Action for Dental Health Act 2015 (HR 539), which aims to reduce the number of people who visit the emergency room for dental conditions, expand access to dental care for people in nursing homes, support charitable programs that provide care to disadvantaged children and adults and ensure more Americans have access to drinking water with fluoride. The bill, which has 64 sponsors, redirects existing resources to programs that reduce and eliminate barriers preventing millions of Americans from achieving good oral health.

More access to preventive dental care for Americans in need is within reach. Proven solutions are there, as are huge potential budget savings. This is evidence that state leaders can’t ignore.

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