The 105-day regular session has ended, but lawmakers have returned to Olympia to tackle unfinished business, including approving a two-year budget and determining how to fund basic education.
As the Legislature hammers out a two-year budget, Oral Health Watch and its coalition members are urging lawmakers to continue supporting investments in oral health and to remember that improving dental care access can make a real difference for many of Washington State’s most vulnerable residents.
Numerous studies have shown that oral health can impact overall wellness, employment opportunities, school attendance, nutrition and quality of life. A recent study also found that access to routine oral health care is particularly important for people who are managing chronic conditions, including pregnancy and diabetes.
That is why many lawmakers support the Oral Health Connections pilot, a program that would use the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry model to provide care for certain adult populations particularly in need of dental care.
Both the House and Senate budgets include funding for Oral Health Connections, which would provide an enhanced Medicaid dental benefit for expectant mothers and people with diabetes.
As with ABCD currently, this smart, measured approach can improve health and spare people from needless suffering. Participating providers would receive enhanced rates, which allow for more patients to see dentists in their own communities. Oral Health Connections also would provide support services and coordinate with doctors, dentists, nurses and social service organizations to address the whole patient’s needs.
Please join Oral Health Watch and remind lawmakers that improving dental care access can improve health and prevent needless suffering.