A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Oral Health

Governor Signs Oral Health Bill

This afternoon the Governor ushered in a new chapter for oral health in the Commonwealth, Chapter 530 of the Acts of 2008, when he signed omnibus oral health legislation into law. Health Care For All, the Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce, the Massachusetts Dental Hygienists' Association and the Massachusetts Dental Society commend the Governor and the Legislature for passing and enacting this historic legislation. Governor Patrick, Secretary Bigby, Commissioner Auerbach, Senate President Murray, Speaker DiMasi and the Chairs of the Legislative Oral Health Caucus, Senator Harriette Chandler and... Read more »

Governor Has Opportunity To Make Oral Health Progress - Sign S. 2819

The 2007-2008 Legislature went out with a bang on Tuesday as both branches enacted omnibus oral health legislation and sent it to the Governor for his signature. Thanks to the leadership of Representative John Scibak and Senator Harriette Chandler, Senate bill 2819 (text here) swept through the House and Senate during the final days of the session, getting enacted right before the final gavel of the night. Read more »

Low MassHealth Dental Rates Just Increase Other Costs (and Hurt Health)

On Tuesday, the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy (DHCFP) heard testimony regarding their proposal to adjust reimbursement rates paid to dental providers who treat MassHealth patients.  Unfortunately, dental reimbursement rates, especially for adults, continue to fall far below the cost of providing care.  Advocates came together to testify on these proposed rate changes. Lack of access to dental care causes needless pain, suffering, and illness, and wastes millions in extensive and costly services in emergency and inpatient hospital settings. This is especially important in the... Read more »

American Academy of Pediatrics Pushes for Inclusion of Oral Health

The U.S. Surgeon General has identified the mouth as an early warning system, signaling trouble in other parts of the body. Oral health is inextricably linked to overall health. In fact, dental disease is caused by a bacterial infection in the mouth. Left untreated, it can lead to life-long health problems, from respiratory disease, to heart disease to diabetes. In Massachusetts, nearly half of all children have experienced this disease by the time they reach third grade. Left untreated, dental disease can impact a child’s ability to eat, sleep and concentrate in school. It is no surprise,... Read more »

Inadequate MassHealth Dental Rates

Equitable reimbursement rates for MassHealth dental services are critical to ensuring the health of vulnerable populations and increasing access to dental care for children on MassHealth, as required by the HCFA v. Romney lawsuit. Read more »

Teaming Up to Promote Oral Health

Promoting oral health is an integral component in keeping Massachusetts healthy, and presenting a united front is a key tool in this advocacy work. This week, HCFA’s Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce partnered with Forsyth Institute to coordinate a special meeting of oral health programs. The meeting brought together participants from all walks of the oral health community to work together to identify goals that would improve oral health and health overall. Organizations represented at Monday’s meeting included the Department of Health’s Office of Oral Health, Massachusetts Coalition of School-... Read more »

MassHealth launches statewide fluoride varnish program

Primary care providers can now help prevent tooth decay in their MassHealth patients! MassHealth is implementing this new statewide initiative that allows all primary care providers to apply fluoride varnish on children’s teeth. The initiative began on October 1st and we expect providers to treat over 6,000 MassHealth children in the first year alone. The purpose of applying fluoride varnish is to prevent cavities in children at risk. Fluorides have been used for many years to help prevent dental decay. Fluoride varnish provides an added benefit of protection for children at risk for... Read more »

Pediatric Residents Desire Increased Oral Health Training to Improve Children’s Health

According to the Surgeon General's report released in 2000, oral health status plays a crucial role in overall health. Children with dental disease have trouble keeping up in school and with their peers, which in the long-term, can lead to life-long health problems, from heart disease to diabetes to pre-term birth. Oral health also has a significant impact on school success, as 51 million schools hours are lost a year due to dental related problems. It is essential to have pediatricians involved in promoting children’s oral health as party of their overall health. Unfortunately, according to... Read more »

Difficult Cuts

Yesterday Governor Patrick released his budget cuts, required under state law due to declining revenues. Detailed information is available on the state web site, here. The cuts -- which add up to more than $1 billion -- could not be done without hitting health care programs. Health care is about a third of the state budget, and health care programs took their share of the cuts. Some important priorities were spared, however, and we commend the Governor, Secretary Kirwan and Secretary Bigby for keeping the solid commitment to the success of health reform. Read more »

October is Children’s Health Month!

The National Wellness Institute, an organization that provides health promotion and wellness professionals resources and services, declares October as Children's Health Month. The Watch Your Mouth campaign wants to take this opportunity to celebrate Children’s health month by highlighting the importance of children’s oral health. Read more »


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