MA Kids Dental Programs Move to the Head of the Class!

More than five years after filing a lawsuit against the state, HCFA and the Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce (OHAT) are happy to announce today that Massachusetts’ children’s dental programs have been given an ‘A’ by the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign.

HCFA could not be more excited by these survey results, which prove the state’s efforts to better children’s dental programs through improved management of Medicaid and expansion of access to school-based dental programs. A significant improvement from last year’s C-rating, the state earned its top-rank based on streamlined administration, making payments to providers more quickly and the fact that Medicaid participants using dental services in Massachusetts has more than doubled. HCFA and OHAT are excited to see these improvements after filing the lawsuit in 2005, and we look forward to further advances we can make together.

Because families seek care as a unit, one of those next steps includes An Act to Restore MassHealth Adult Dental Benefits (S. 1079/H. 1529), which would grant more than $50 million to the MassHealth dental programs and eliminate the potential for untreated oral issues and diseases. At the minimum, we are seeking funding for some of Massachusetts’ most vulnerable populations, including the developmentally disabled, pregnant women and HIV/AIDS patients.

“‘A’ shouldn’t stand for all done,” Andy Snyder, a researcher in the Pew survey, told the Boston Globe. “When adults have dental coverage, they’re likely to seek care for themselves and also seek care for their kids.”

OHAT members have ensured that state legislators know that overall health means proper oral health, so “health insurance” and “dental insurance” should be the same, too. In addition to Snyder’s claim that good oral health in adults means the same for kids, the New York Times also told us that cavities can be contagious, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told us that we must reduce the amount of dental decay and extractions by 2020, and countless patients have told us that their healthy diets and lifestyles are dependent on adequate oral health care. Obviously, providing restored benefits and improved quality care is important to everyone, both kids and adults alike.

HCFA is proud to have been a part of the transformation of the state’s dental care for children, but with this top-ranking for children’s programs, Massachusetts is part of the health-elite, once again, and it is time that adults get in on the action, too.

-Katy Capers

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