DentaQuest and Virginia Health Catalyst praise the state benefit expansion, commit to increasing awareness among Medicaid members and providers
Low-income adults who receive Medicaid coverage can now obtain routine oral health care, thanks to a new law in Virginia that funds an oral health benefit for adults. Prior to today, the state Medicaid program only covered emergency oral health services--often tooth extractions. This expansion could impact 750,000 Virginians.
“This is a real game-changer for a population that is too frequently left behind by our health care policies,” said Steve Pollock, president and CEO of DentaQuest, the organization that administers the Medicaid dental benefit in Virginia and dozens of other states. “Oral health care is health care, and we’ve long known the critical connection between the mouth and one’s overall health. This state policy change is recognition of that importance.”
Virginia Health Catalyst is a nonprofit public health organization that was instrumental in ensuring this benefit becomes a reality. “This coverage will improve the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Virginians,” said Sarah Bedard Holland, CEO of Virginia Health Catalyst. “Being able to access oral health care isn’t just going to improve physical health outcomes for many of our friends and neighbors. It will also assist with employability, improve mental health, and enable health systems to provide more equitable integrated care to Medicaid members.”
Research has shown that poor oral health has a direct link to higher risks of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, asthma and more. It also increases risk of suffering a stroke and leads to greater instances of depression and other mental health illnesses.
One recent study found a link between better preventive oral health and a reduced risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). VAP is a leading cause of death among critically ill patients and has posed a serious problem for those afflicted with COVID-19 who require mechanical ventilation. According to the report, having at least one preventive dental visit within three years of being placed on a mechanical ventilator reduced a patient’s likelihood of a VAP diagnosis by 22%.
Adults on Medicaid will now be able to visit the dentist for routine care three times each year.
Further expanding dental coverage will reduce overall health care costs and ease the burden on emergency rooms by reducing the number of people relying on them for dental care. One estimate of the cost of avoidable emergency room visits nationwide is $1.7 billion annually.
“Policymakers in Virginia deserve praise for extending oral health care coverage to adults covered by Medicaid,” said Pollock and Bedard Holland. “We hope Virginia can be an example to the remaining states who have yet to extend coverage to adults.”
ABOUT VIRGINIA HEALTH CATALYST
Virginia Health Catalyst is a statewide public health nonprofit organization that strives to ensure everyone in the Commonwealth has equitable access to comprehensive health care that includes oral health. We do this through advocacy and programmatic initiatives that address clinical and community care, public awareness, policy, and public health. Learn more about Catalyst at: www.vahealthcatalyst.org or from our social media Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
DentaQuest is a purpose-driven oral health care company dedicated to improving the oral health of all. We do this through Preventistry® – our all-in approach to better care, expanded access, value-based financing, and innovative solutions. We manage dental and vision benefits for 30+ million Americans and direct patient care through our network of more than 80 oral health centers in 6 states. We’re proud to have been ranked highest in customer satisfaction with dental plans by J.D. Power each year from 2016 to 2020. We provide outcomes-based, cost-effective dental solutions for Medicaid and CHIP, Medicare Advantage, small and large businesses, and individuals nationwide. And, we've invested more than $230 million in grants, programs and other corporate citizenship efforts to achieve measurably healthier communities across the country. By advancing prevention-focused oral health, we will achieve better overall health for everyone. Learn more at www.DentaQuest.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
The newsletter designed for anyone who wants to improve oral health for themselves, their families, customers or communities.