Washington State dental care access facts:
• More than 1 million adults in Washington have Apple Health coverage, our state’s Medicaid program, which includes dental care.
• Of the 1 million adults with Apple Health insurance, nearly 600,000 are lower-income adults who gained coverage through Medicaid Expansion, helping lower wage workers, single parents, college students and young adults just starting out get the care they need.
• Less than a quarter (23%) of adults with Apple Health coverage received dental care in 2015.
• An overwhelming majority of adults with Apple Health coverage are unable to access preventive and early treatment dental care.
• Access to routine dental care impacts oral health, overall health, employment opportunities, school attendance and satisfaction with one’s life.
• 44% of low-income adults say they avoid smiling because their teeth embarrass them.
• 58% of low-income adults say they experience dental pain
• Dental care access is a problem throughout our state, impacting rural, suburban and urban communities.
There is a solution: Providing enhanced rates for expectant moms and diabetes patients is a good place to start.
• SB 5540 would allow for the state to create a three-year pilot program that would provide enhanced dental reimbursement rates and wrap around services to determine whether smart, targeted investments in preventive dental care and early gum disease treatment will lead to improved health, fewer medical complications and money savings.
• Sponsored by Sens. Maureen Walsh (R-16th), Jeannie Darneille (D-27th), Ann Rivers (R-18th), John Braun (R-20th) and Karen Keiser (D-33rd), SB 5540 has bipartisan support.
• Expanding access for pregnant women and patients with diabetes would help two vulnerable populations.
• Research has found that poor oral health can adversely affect people with diabetes and pregnant women, leading to higher medical costs and more complications.