As part of their tax obligation to provide benefits to the community beyond hospital care, nonprofit hospitals can fund oral health initiatives such as community dental clinics, mobile dental services, vouchers for dental care and oral health advocacy coalitions in the communities they serve. In this issue brief we explain how to advocate for such initiatives.
This year, several states passed budgets that expand oral health coverage for adults in Medicaid. Expanding this coverage goes a long way to improving overall health, making oral health care more accessible and affordable, and reducing unnecessary emergency room costs to both states and individuals. Now that state advocates and policy makers are planning for 2018 budgets, it is important to learn from the progress that was made, where these policies fell short, and consider how threats to oral health could also arise in state budget processes.
Congressional proposals to cut and cap Medicaid will put enormous pressure on states to cut services – and will make it nearly impossible for states that now have gaps in their coverage to ever catch up. The struggle to provide oral health care illustrates this problem. Currently, all states must provide oral health care for children, but oral health coverage for adults including seniors and people with disabilities is optional for states.
Even as healthcare has become a politically charged issue this year, we’ve seen oral health advocates work diligently and some states make progress to improve oral health benefits in their Medicaid programs. This week, with overwhelming bipartisan support, Maryland became the latest state to authorize a dental benefit for adults in its Medicaid program.
Millions of adults lack coverage for oral health care and cannot afford to pay for needed care on their own. States can make a difference by covering extensive oral health benefits in their Medicaid programs.
Former U.S. surgeon generals refer to oral disease as a “silent epidemic” affecting some of our most vulnerable citizens.
People who lack coverage for oral health care are likely to forego preventive care, get cavities, lose teeth, and suffer from periodontal disease. This can exacerbate other chronic and acute illnesses people may be experiencing.
Oral health care is vital to a child’s overall health. This summer, the U.S. Treasury Department proposed a change in the rules for premium tax credits that, if adopted, will make children’s dental care more affordable.
Despite some improvements since a landmark Surgeon General’s report in 2000, unacceptable numbers of adults across all income levels suffer from dental problems that degrade their quality of life, and it is cost that prevents them from getting the care they need.
Lack of access to dental care is a significant problem in American health care. Last week, USA Today reported that the number of adults seeking help in the emergency room for “long-delayed dental care” has doubled since 2000. This finding highlights data we released in May showing that dental care is one of the most persistent unmet health care needs for many adults.
Despite a divided Congress in Washington, many state policymakers around the country, supported by advocates, reached across the aisle to make needed improvements to the health care system.
Governors, lawmakers, and regulators made strides to expand health coverage, protect consumers in the insurance market, and address rising prescription drug prices. Here are some of the highlights of the 2016 sessions through June 1 and the Families USA allies whose advocacy was critical to making them happen.