Poor access to oral health care and low utilization of oral health services by publicly insured people have been persistent problems that states and their Medicaid programs have grappled with for decades. However, there are groups of Medicaid enrollees – such as young children, pregnant women, people with developmental disabilities, and people living in rural areas – who face particular oral health challenges. These populations can benefit from interventions targeted specifically at their needs. This policy briefing, which is drawn from a literature review and interviews with stakeholders across the country, describes strategies that several states have used to better address the oral health needs of these groups by doing the following:
- Enhancing the training of dental professionals
- Broadening service delivery sites
- Enhancing state contracts
- Using existing safety net pathways
This study, funded by the California HealthCare Foundation, also examines ways that California’s active and engaged state agencies (including Denti-Cal, the state’s Medicaid dental program), dental association, and universities have explored these issues, and further steps the state might take to build on its efforts.
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