Oral Health

Oral health is an integral part of overall health. Good oral health and dental hygiene can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, as well as reduce the risk of complications due to chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and preterm birth.

Our Mission

Comprehensive coverage and access to oral health and dental services are often lacking for many consumers in Massachusetts. This is particularly true for underserved and high-risk populations such as low-income adults, older adults, people with disabilities, minorities, and immigrant populations.

What is HCFA doing to address the problem?

Advocating for legislative, budget and policy solutions that increase coverage and access to oral health & dental services for all persons in the Commonwealth.

Key Issue Areas:

  • Restore full MassHealth adult dental benefits for adults (age 21 – 64)
  • Authorize dental therapists to work in Massachusetts
  • Integrate medical and dental care
  • Increase access to oral health care for older adults (greater than age 55) Authorize mid-level dental care providers called Dental Therapists

Legislative Priorities

(2021-2022)

H.2320/S.1378: An Act Establishing an Oral Health Commission and Needs Assessment (Rep. Hogan/Sen. Chandler)

Dental care is a critical component of overall health care, and yet access to dental coverage and services can be out of reach for many Massachusetts residents. Underserved communities across the state have continued to face the greatest barriers to accessing dental care. These same communities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and exacerbating existing health disparities. Unmet oral health care needs remain a challenge, and helping people stay healthy is more important now than ever. However, data on oral health needs and access to care is extremely outdated, hindering Massachusetts’ ability to understand the challenges we face and the policy solutions to pursue to ensure access to dental services. The first step is to get an accurate picture of the oral health needs of residents across the state.

Policy Priorities

Integration of dental and medical care:

Include oral health and dental services as a requirement of state standards for MassHealth and commercial Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and other value-based care models. Given ACOs’ focus on whole-person health, the inclusion of oral health is critical to fully realize the potential of integrated care. Oral health integration is complex and requires a multi-pronged approach including payment and care delivery reform, provider education, and investments in health information technology.

Increase access to oral health care for older adults (age >55):

Engage older adults to mobilize and advocate for expanded access and coverage of oral health & dental services in Massachusetts, explore new opportunities for low-income seniors to participate in Senior Care Option (SC) dental plans, and develop a policy agenda & campaign that addresses the concerns and challenges older adults encounter when accessing care.

Outreach Activity

The Oral Health Advocacy Task Force (OHAT): OHAT is a broad-based statewide coalition of consumers, advocates, health care professionals, academics, and insurers. It is composed of 109 member organizations, guided by a 20-member steering committee and works closely with the Legislative Oral Health Caucus, chaired by Senate President Emeritas Harriette Chandler and Representative Kevin Honan.

Achievements

  • Restoration of MassHealth coverage for periodontal services to treat gum disease

Where can I find more information about this campaign?

Massachusetts’ Efforts to Integrate Oral Health into ACOs

Connecting the Mouth to the Body in Health Policy

Oral Health Integration Project Coalition Member Level of Engagement

Case Studies in Oral Health Integration

Integrating Oral and General Health: The Role of Accountable Care Organizations

Coordinated Care and Oral Health Integration in Oregon

Where can I find more information about this campaign?

Contact Health Care For All’s Oral Health Project Manager, Samantha Jordan.

Email Sam to learn more

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Care Defender

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