We are delighted to report that Senate Bill 5540, which would create an oral health pilot program for low-income pregnant women and adults with diabetes, has passed through the Senate Health Care Committee and has been scheduled for a hearing in the Ways & Means Committee on Tuesday, February 21. Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 to let lawmakers know that you support SB 5540.
SB 5540, sponsored by Sens. Maureen Walsh (R-Walla Walla), Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma), Ann Rivers (R-LaCenter), John Braun (R-Centralia) and Karen Keiser (D-Kent), aims to address the dental care access disparity experienced by many Apple Health-insured patients. Less than one quarter of adults with Apple Health coverage received dental care in 2015, while more than 65 percent of privately insured adults received oral health care during that same time.
Supporters of the bill hope to determine whether expanding dental care access for two vulnerable populations – expectant mothers and diabetes patients – will lead to better health outcomes, fewer complications and lower medical costs. Studies show that oral health impacts whole body health, and in particular, that pregnant women and patients with diabetes who have routine dental care have improved overall health and less expensive medical costs.
SB 5540 would allow the state to partner with Arcora Foundation to test the pilot program, which would include enhanced rates for dental providers and support services for the patients.
Nearly a dozen organizations backed the bill, including Arcora Foundation, CHOICE Regional Health Network, American Diabetes Association, Washington State Dental Association, Washington Dental Hygienists Association and March of Dimes.
Learn more about SB 5540 here.