Families USA, in partnership with the DentaQuest Foundation, has launched an intensive, multi-faceted, long-term issue advocacy campaign, Oral Health for All, to expand access to oral health coverage to the more than 130 million Americans who currently lack such coverage.
This ambitious goal will be achieved through a series of strategic policy changes to be enacted on the federal and/or state level including:
>> Adding an oral health benefit to Medicare and Medicaid;
>> Including oral health coverage for adults in subsidized marketplace health insurance plans; and
>> Improving access to oral health care for children in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and marketplace health plans.
To achieve these goals, there must be a consistent, effective, well-resourced effort to educate policymakers across the country about the importance of the issue; mobilize coalitions of national, state, and local organizations to call for these policy changes; and build public awareness and support for the need to expand oral health coverage through strategic communications.
Families USA, with more than 30 years of experience coordinating such advocacy campaigns, including a key role in passing the Affordable Care Act, is uniquely qualified to lead this campaign.
The Need: Expand Oral Health Coverage
Approximately 130 million people in the United States have no oral health coverage, including 1 in 5 children, 2 in 5 adults, and 7 in 10 seniors. This lack of coverage is a major problem for low-income people, who often can’t afford to pay out of pocket for their oral health care. Low-income people are 40 percent less likely than those with higher incomes to have visited the dentist in the past 12 months. And 42 percent of low-income people have untreated tooth decay, compared with 12 percent of Americans with higher incomes.
Although there is a clear need to expand oral health coverage, this issue is not currently on the political policymaking agenda in any significant way. That must change.