Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Dental Coverage has Bipartisan Support among Voters

As the new Trump Administration and Republican Congress begin their work this month, they will have the opportunity to advance conservative priorities through major legislative changes. At the top of their list is repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which will have implications for the dental health and overall health of many Americans.

ACA replacement proposals from President-elect Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan, and the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services Rep. Tom Price should signal major changes forthcoming to the health care industry.

The ACA’s Medicaid expansion, essential health benefits, and exchange provisions have increased access to dental care for both children and adults. While the future of these elements is uncertain, we at DentaQuest want to ensure that replacement proposals do not jeopardize this important access to oral health. We’ve made great strides in eliminating barriers to dental coverage for millions of Americans who gained access through the ACA.

As policymakers consider different replacement plans, the role of oral health must remain a priority. 

In a recent survey of 2,000 registered U.S. voters conducted by DentaQuest via Morning Consult, the inclusion of dental coverage in public programs received widespread support from voters of both parties.

The survey showed that:

  • 83 percent of respondents think dental coverage should be a part of Medicare
    • 83 percent of Republicans agree
    • 86 percent of Democrats agree
    • 81 percent of Independents agree
  • 73 percent of respondents believe dental coverage should be a required benefit in Medicaid
    • 64 percent of Republicans agree
    • 82 percent of Democrats agree
    • 71 percent of Independents agree

Dental coverage is not currently included in Medicare, nor is it a required benefit for adults in Medicaid. A full repeal of the ACA could compound oral health access issues by eliminating Medicaid expansion and the exchanges— two important sources of affordable dental coverage.

Research continues to show a connection between oral and overall health. Dental coverage is a critical first step to improve both oral and overall health outcomes, reduce persistent health disparities, and contain systemic costs.

As policymakers seek to improve our existing health care system, oral health must be a part of the solution. 

It is clear: Dental coverage has demonstrated itself to be a bipartisan priority for the American public. As we enter a 2017 legislative session with significant health care policy changes on the agenda, dental coverage must also remain a priority for Congress.

The full survey conducted by DentaQuest and Morning Consult will be released in 2017.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Proud to Reflect on DentaQuest Giving Back, Remain Committed for 2017

The start of a new year is an opportunity to reflect and consider how we fit into the community at large. Through our corporate giving program and the volunteered talents of our staff, we are investing in our neighborhoods, supporting our stakeholders, and creating leadership opportunities for our employees. Here are highlights from 2016 that will help us have even greater impact for 2017:

Community is the Foundation of What We Do

We awarded Corporate Giving funds to safety net dental programs and community organizations that help thousands of at-risk children, families, people with disabilities, and seniors. We were also involved with organizations working to feed the hungry, prepare the next generation workforce, end health disparities and inequity, and help neighbors who are struggling to get through each day.

In 2016, DentaQuest’s Giving Program touched 165 organizations in 26 states. And that is in addition to the millions of dollars in investments made by our DentaQuest Foundation and our DentaQuest Institute to community change makers who are working for better policies, financing, and care with a goal of improving the oral health of all. All this matters because oral health really is fundamental to living a healthy life and important to academic and economic success.

Missions of Mercy Dental Clinics

While our 24 million members have access to quality dental care, there are millions more who are uninsured or underinsured and fall through the cracks at the worst of times. Many of them depend on the arrival of the Mission of Mercy, a multi-day free clinic staffed by volunteers, for essential dental care services. Working with local dental societies and our local staff volunteers, DentaQuest supported 21 free care clinics in 18 states.

Consider that, on average, each Mission of Mercy clinic serves 1,500 to 2,000 patients; the dental clinics that we supported provided over $15,000,000 in services and helped nearly 30,000 individuals who have great needs and few other options.

Stand Together in Times of Crisis

Our employee-directed Corporate Giving Committee directed financial support to communities that suffered in 2016: areas recovering from Hurricane Matthew in Florida and South Carolina, the once-in-a-century floods in Louisiana, flooded areas of rural West Virginia, the destructive wildfires (and tornado) in Tennessee. Support was also sent to Orlando after it suffered a violent shooting and to a help those in need after a five-alarm fire in Cambridge, Mass.

Throughout the year, we provided toothbrushes to schools, after school programs, and community health fairs serving at-risk children in high need neighborhoods. And through our matched giving program, our employees made additional contributions to charities close to their hearts.

Sweat Equity 

For us, giving is a combination of equity and sweat. Our employees look forward to attending local events that support the community and are willing volunteers at health fairs, walks for a cause, and dental care clinics.

During our annual Mission Month (mid-September to mid-October), we roll up our sleeves and leave the office to conquer high-impact projects tailored to the need of the community. This year, it was to feed families at Ronald McDonald Houses, paint and update schools and community centers, remove invasive plants from local rivers, and reclaim and replant city gardens.

We participated in 35 events in 11 states. A remarkable 67 percent of our employees participated in a Mission Month project, contributing over 3,612 volunteer hours, valued at $93,912.

Some go even further. Our Living the Mission Awards honor employees who go above and beyond for their sustained volunteer contributions to a charitable organization outside of Mission Month or company-sponsored events. Congrats again to those awardees!

What's Next?

Looking back on what we’ve accomplished in 2016, it is with pride that we can say we live our mission every day.  We truly are the dental company with vision, and heart. Looking forward, we will aim higher, find ways to give more of ourselves to those around us, and ultimately stay true to our mission - improving the oral health of all.