The front-page story in Spare Change News, a paper founded in 1992 by a group of homeless individuals and a housing advocate, highlights the tremendous impact of the MassHealth dental cuts, and demonstrates how strongly many residents of the Commonwealth feel about this issue.
According to Spare Change, “Dentist Barry W. Aston of Hudson, Massachusetts has argued the Mass Dental program played a crucial role preventing costly trips to the hospital due to dental emergencies, and has even written articles about the issue in the Metrowest Daily News and other local publications.”
Representative Scibak (co-chair of the Legislative Oral Health Caucus) also weighed in:
“The bottom line is if people don’t get consistent dental services, the state loses more money … These cuts will affect everybody on Mass Health. But within this there are going to be groups disproportionately affected; such as people with disabilities and low-income citizens,” said Sciback… “It is definitely going to affect the problem [homelessness]. It’s going to make it much more difficult for the homeless to escape the cycle they are caught in. If they are trying to find work, or trying to find job training, it’s going to be much more difficult if the mouth looks awful,” said Sciback. “The homeless are really caught between a rock and a hard place with this. Life for them was difficult before these cuts. Losing these services is devastating.”
These cuts affect 700,000 individuals in Massachusetts. In addition to making it difficult to find work, the mouth serves as the gateway to the body- oral health problems are associated with other severe health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, stroke, diabetes, and premature birth. Access to comprehensive dental care is critical in keeping the Commonwealth healthy. For more information, please visit www.hcfama.org/oralhealth.