Oral Health Connections – Oral Health Watch

Improving outcomes for pregnant women and people with diabetes

Can expanding dental care access for expectant mothers and people with diabetes improve overall health outcomes? Beginning in January 2019, the state launched Oral Health Connections, a three-year pilot program that aims to expand oral health care access for pregnant women and people with diabetes to produce better health outcomes. Gum disease can contribute to diabetes complications and has been linked to unfavorable birth outcomes in newborns. Improved oral health will help patients manage their diabetes and contribute to a healthy pregnancy.

The Oral Health Connections pilot will link Apple Health-insured pregnant women and patients with diabetes with dental care in their community. The model is based on the nationally-recognized Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) program. The Oral Health Connections program will operate in three pilot counties: Thurston, Spokane, and Cowlitz.

In partnership with the Arcora Foundation and local health organizations, the pilot project includes training and enhanced reimbursements for providers treating eligible patients and care coordination. Studies show that pregnant women and people with diabetes who have regular dental visits experience fewer medical complications and shorter hospital stays than those who do not.

Oral Health Watch supports the Oral Health Connections pilot program and other innovative approaches to reduce health disparities among Washington state’s most vulnerable and underserved populations.

Click here to tell legislators that you support innovations like the Oral Health Watch Connections pilot.

Opportunities to Improve the Medicaid Dental Program

By: Diane Oakes, President & CEO of Arcora Foundation When our state legislators passed the 2019–2021 Operating Budget in the final days of the session, they included a proviso directing the Health Care Authority (HCA) to stop moving forward with the planned implementation of Medicaid dental managed care, to continue directly administering the program under…

Apple Health dental program investments good policy, the right thing to do

Oral Health Watch and the nearly two million Washington residents with Apple Health (Medicaid) dental coverage need your support. While the House and Governor’s budgets include an increase for the Apple Health dental program, the Senate budget represents a cut of more than $19M in total funds ($7.8M in state funds) from the program. The…

Expanding dental care access is a top priority during 2019 legislative session

Oral Health Watch believes every person should enjoy the benefits of good oral health and that no one should be burdened by painful cavities and untreated oral disease. As Washington lawmakers return to Olympia for a 105-day legislative session this week, OHW would like to share some of the legislative priorities of oral health advocates.…

Making progress toward improved oral health care access

Oral health care advocates had a good deal to cheer about in 2018 as both Washington state and the federal government signed into law legislation aimed at expanding dental care access for underserved populations. This year began with a short Washington state legislative session that yielded multiple oral health care access gains, including the Legislature’s…

Open Enrollment Ends Dec. 15th

Washington residents seeking health care coverage for 2019 on the Washington Health Benefit Exchange have until Saturday, December 15thbefore the open enrollment period ends. Enrollment for Apple Health, our state’s Medicaid program, is available year-round for individuals and families that qualify for free or low-cost health coverage. The number of people signing up for care in…

Make your voice heard for immigrant families

By Litonya Lester, Health Policy Director and Sarah Domondon, Policy and Advocacy Associate at Children’s Alliance Immigrant families shouldn’t have to choose between getting dental care and their stability in the U.S. But the White House’s current proposed rule on public charge have many wondering if accessing vital services will put them at risk. Luckily…

Op-ed: Equity requires retaining dental coverage

State of Reform •

Policymakers in Olympia confronting the financial damage caused by COVID-19 have some difficult decisions to make…Yet, it would be a huge mistake to cut essential health care safety net programs for people who are the most vulnerable and are already experiencing health inequities.