Archive for the ‘Featured Article’ Category
October 11th, 2011
Toothaches and dental problems contribute to millions of lost days of school each year, often because children have too little access to dental care. The Pew Children’s Dental Campaign is working in several states nationally to encourage low-cost state policy reforms that could expand the dental workforce and address this critical health issue.
In California, where children missed 874,000 school days in a recent year because of dental problems, a coalition led by The Children’s Partnership, is urging policymakers to implement workforce solutions to ensure there are enough dental providers to meet the needs of California’s children. The goal is to deploy providers, supervised by dentists, who could focus on preventive and basic restorative care. By extending the reach of dentists, new workforce models can help ensure all children get the high-quality dental care they need in a cost-effective way.
While most state health insurance programs now cover children’s dental care, low-income kids often have trouble finding a dentist who practices in their community or who takes Medicaid patients. The mismatch in the number of providers and the children is particularly acute in California and will only grow worse as federal health care reform provides health coverage for more children, says The Children’s Partnership.
New workforce models not only address the shortage of dentists, but can also create new jobs and career paths for members of an affected community. Alaska and Minnesota, as well as 50 other countries, use various types of dental providers to expand access to dental care for children, while creating job opportunities.
In addition to advocating for a new type of dental provider, the Pew campaign is working to:
• Ensure that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program work better for kids and for providers so that insurance coverage translates into real access to needed care
• Expand sealant programs for kids who need them most
• Help expand access to optimally fluoridated water