With the 2014 elections behind them, governors and other lawmakers in the nation’s Western states are taking a hard look at expanding Medicaid. In the nation’s largest state, Alaska, the new governor may soon expand Medicaid to more than 40,000 low-income Alaskans. Independent Governor William Walker, a former Republican who upset incumbent Sean Parnell in the November election, took office on December 1. During his campaign, Walker promised to expand Medicaid.
There is a growing childhood epidemic in this country: Tooth decay is now the most common chronic illness among children. The effects of this epidemic are wide-ranging. Children lose 51 million school hours each year due to dental-related illness. And a study in southern California found that untreated dental disease may also interfere with children’s ability to learn: The study found that children with reported tooth pain were four times more likely than their peers to have lower than average grades.