A Healthy Blog

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

Oral Health

Your Task Today: Call Your Senator To Restore Oral Health Fillings

The Senate budget released yesterday is a mix of good and disappointing, of course. We'll have a more detailed report, with all of our amendment recommendations, early next week. But for now we want to focus on the most glaring problem with the budget - no funds for dental fillings for some 800,00 low-income adults on MassHealth, including 120,000 seniors and 180,000 people with disabilities. Now, dentists can identify cavities during an examination, but with the exception of a small number of billing codes, fillings are not covered.  Left untreated, a simple cavity can lead to serious... Read more »

House Approves MassHealth Dental Fillings in Budget; Still Cuts MassHealth

It was hard to notice. But an obscure section in a the final, technical amendment during the House budget debate would allow over 800,000 low-income adults to receive dental fillings under the budget approved by the Massachusetts House of Representatives Wednesday night. The budget amendment added $17.2 million to restore coverage for fillings in the MassHealth adult dental plan, effective January 1, 2014. Those benefiting include 120,000 seniors and 180,000 people with disabilities. Oral health is a crucial part of overall health. Left untreated, dental decay can spread throughout the body,... Read more »

House Budget Debate: Call Now For MassHealth Dental Coverage and Staffing

This week starts the budget process in the state House of Representatives. For the next 3-4 days, the House will deal with some 888 amendments. The full budget and amendments are here.  You can also download the "Amendment Book" which has the amendments summarized and categorized by topic. I counted 49 in the Health and Human Services category, another 27 in the Mental Health and Disabilities category, and 58 in the Public Health category. That's a lot. Read more »

House Budget: Funds ACA, Cuts Dental, Cuts Public Health. But It's Mostly About the Revenue.

It's all about the revenue. Yesterday the House released its proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. With the House counting on much less revenue than the Governor called for, they used two strategies to bring the budget into balance: make lots of cuts, and use lots more one-time revenue sources. Although transportation and education face the biggest cuts compared to the Governor's proposal, there are some gaping holes in health care as well. Read more »

Oral Health: Advocates Prepared to Make Them See RED

Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 9), advocates will convene at the State House in support of Restoring Essential Dental benefits to MassHealth. Oral health is full body health. So, why would Massachusetts – the state that pioneered universal healthcare for all residents – slash dental benefits for those that need it most? The answer is easy, budget cuts. Please plan to join HCFA and the Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce at the State House tomorrow at 1:00 pm as the Joint Committee on Public Health hears An Act to Restore MassHealth Adult Dental Benefits. To ensure that we are seen and heard, we are... Read more »

Globe Spotlights Public Health Dental Hygienists

Today’s Boston Globe features a piece on the 31 licensed public health dental hygienists in the Commonwealth. Longtime readers of this blog know that oral health is inextricable for overall health. They also know that despite a large body of evidence pointing to a multitude of costly and complex health issues related to poor oral health, access to dental care remains an issue. Read more »

Mass Gets A "B" On Dental Sealants

How Are States Doing On Providing Dental Sealants The Pew Center recently released a report on dental sealants across the country, grading each state (and D.C.) on its performance in providing sealants. The grades failed to impress: only 5 states (Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wisconsin) received the top grade of an “A,” and 20 states received either a “D” or an “F.” Read more »

HCFA Looks Ahead to 2013

Happy New Year from all of HCFA (see our staff picture above)! The year 2013 will be a critical year for health care in Massachusetts. State government will be making numerous decisions that will directly impact the availability, cost and quality of the care that everyone depends on. Health Care For All will be there, making the sure the voices of consumers and patients are heard on Beacon Hill, and throughout the state. Among the key issues we anticipate focusing on for 2013 are: Read more »

Rally Calls For Full MassHealth Dental Benefits

More than 80 consumers, advocates, legislators, and staff flooded the State House Member’s Lounge yesterday, wearing red in support of Restoring Essential Dental benefits to MassHealth. Kathy Eklund, chair of the Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce (OHAT), kicked off the afternoon by reminding the room that “in order to ensure the health of every community across Commonwealth, including our most vulnerable populations, benefits must be fully restored.” Read more »

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