Heartfelt thanks to everyone – lawmakers, Oral Health Watch coalition members, and allies – for your support. The Washington State Legislature included the Oral Health Connections pilot in its 2017-2019 biennial budget, which will test how an enhanced Medicaid dental benefit can increase access to care and improve health outcomes for two adult populations in particular need of dental care. The Oral Health Connections pilot is modeled after the highly successful Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program, which has helped increased dental care access for young children.
Like ABCD, the Oral Health Connections pilot aims to expand dental care access by leveraging public-private partnerships to connect eligible, low-income patients with nearby dentists. The test program will provide an enhanced Medicaid dental benefit for expectant mothers and people with diabetes. Oral Health Connections also will provide support services and coordinate with doctors, dentists, nurses and social service organizations to address the whole patient’s needs.
There’s a strong connection between oral health and overall wellness. Poor oral health also can impair a person’s ability to learn, eat nutritiously and get ahead in life. For people managing chronic conditions like diabetes and for pregnant women, improved access to dental care can lead to better outcomes and fewer costly complications.
That is why the Oral Health Connections pilot received widespread support across the state, and why members of both the House and Senate and on both sides of the aisle embraced applying ABCD’s proven-effective approach to expanding dental care access for adults.
It also is why so many of you advocated for the pilot, urging your representatives to support Oral Health Connections. Thank you all again for your advocacy and for championing proven solutions that can expand dental care access for those experiencing great need.