Earlier this week, Kentucky Oral Health Coalition participated in an event hosted by The Hill and sponsored by CareQuest Institute for Oral Health.
As oral health advocates, we are familiar with the phrase, a healthy mouth is the gateway to a healthy body. Yet, oral health is often seen as a siloed system in the health care puzzle and a luxury service. Unfortunately, access to adult oral health care is inconsistent or inaccessible for millions of low-income adults enrolled in Medicaid across the country.
In Kentucky, Medicaid coverage for adults is limited, but includes: oral screenings/exams, emergency visits, x-rays, extractions, and fillings. With a third of our population receiving health coverage through Medicaid, the cost of administering and providing Medicaid coverage is close to half our state budget. We know that lack of dental care has a disproportionate impact on low-income people and people of color. As our legislature navigated three budget sessions in a row, advocating to sustain and protect Medicaid in Kentucky was a necessary step for the coalition. Also, when parents have access to coverage, their child or children are more likely to have coverage as well and more likely to see a dentist and doctor on a routine basis.
We were excited to share Kentucky’s experience to protect and sustain our Medicaid coverage throughout the budget session. Watch the recording of the event to hear from a policymaker, health care experts, oral health professionals, and advocates as they discuss the progress made and what more can be done to improve oral health.