A Healthy Blog

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

Oral Health

"My care isn't just being popped full of pills. It's making sure that all my care is met. And the biggest one is dental care."

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"228","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"344","width":"425","style":""}}]] The room at a recent MassHealth regulations hearing was packed, as some 100 people came out to show their support of oral health. Among these participants, 17 chose to stand up and explain why access to dental care through MassHealth is important to them. Speakers at the hearing came from a wide array of backgrounds, but all agreed on one thing: oral health is a crucial part of overall health. Highlights of the testimony are in the video... Read more »

The People behind the Dental Cuts - Michael & Julie

We frequently say on this blog that oral health is related to overall health- oral health problems can lead to other severe health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, stroke, diabetes, and premature birth. Poor oral health can also impact day-to-day activities such as sleeping, eating, and learning. Unfortunately, with the recent cuts to MassHealth adult dental benefits, we are hearing many personal stories that illustrate the importance of oral health. People on MassHealth can no longer receive fillings, treatment for gum disease, or dentures. Read more »

Spare Change: “MassHealth Bites”

The front-page story in Spare Change News, a paper founded in 1992 by a group of homeless individuals and a housing advocate, highlights the tremendous impact of the MassHealth dental cuts, and demonstrates how strongly many residents of the Commonwealth feel about this issue. According to Spare Change, “Dentist Barry W. Aston of Hudson, Massachusetts has argued the Mass Dental program played a crucial role preventing costly trips to the hospital due to dental emergencies, and has even written articles about the issue in the Metrowest Daily News and other local publications.” Representative... Read more »

“Lack of Dental Care is Costing a Bundle”

A recent article in The Fiscal Times can be added to the long list of evidence that decreasing access to dental care only drives up costs in the long run: When parents don’t take their children for routine checkups and diagnostic tests, the risks of tooth decay and hospitalization rise. “The use of ambulatory surgery for dental problems is among the top five reasons for [same-day] surgery in kids under five,” says Dr. James J. Crall, child advocate at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The article points out that a 2004 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics also supports... Read more »

Volunteer Dentistry Bill Reaches Governor's Desk

Access to oral health care is essential to maintaining overall health. The Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce supports measures that promote access and delivery of crucial oral health services through having a strong network of multiple providers. In the current economic climate, it is essential that we find creative ways to improve access, and as the 2009-2010 legislative session draws to a close, a bill has made its way to the Governor's desk that, when enacted, will do just that. Read more »

20 Years of Disability Progress Still Leaves Room for Improvement

This week is the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which mandates equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities in employment, access to public facilities, transportation and telecommunications. Here in Boston, this important landmark was celebrated with a march and a rally on the Common. However, we should also use this as a reminder that there is still work to be done to truly create equity. Oral health is central to the health and well being of all people, including those with disabilities. Dental decay is a bacterial infection and can spread to the rest of... Read more »

Dental Cases Overwhelming ERs in Missouri

A recent report by the Health Commission in Springfield and Green Counties of Missouri made Show Me State headlines last week. The Commission found that dental pain is one of the most common reasons that people visit the emergency room. Local experts explained that this is an access problem, and emphasized that oral health is critically linked to overall health. The study found that for patients 20 to 39 years old, dental cases make up more than 7 percent of all ER visits in Greene County. They make up 10 percent of all Medicaid visits, and 37 percent of all uninsured visits. Read more »

Budget Conference: You Can Close The Bridge, But People Still Need To Cross The River

The House and Senate conferees reported their FY 2011 budget last night (full text; Globe coverage). Facing no good choices, the conference budget makes deep cuts in health programs, along with many other areas of state government we all rely on. The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the budget this afternoon. This post summarizes our initial read of the budget document; we'll update it during the day as we better understand the implications of the budget. [Update - the always authoritative Mass Budget and Policy Center analysis is here, and their health care discussion is here.] Read more »

Oral Health Initiative 2010: “Oral Health is Integral to Overall Health”

Oral health has been one of the most ignored and overlooked parts of health care delivery. However, the Surgeon General’s Oral Health In America report suggests that oral health problems can lead to other severe health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, stroke, diabetes, and premature birth. The good news is that with proper early interventions, early oral disease such as dental decay is entirely preventable. Last month, Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and former Mass DPH Commissioner, announced the Oral Health Initiative... Read more »

Join us in the Fight to Restore MassHealth Dental!

As the Senate finished their budget debate at 2:45 this morning, all amendments that included a significant amount of money were eliminated, including Senator Chandler’s amendment to protect MassHealth adult dental benefits. Read more »


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