Grant Project Title
Pilot: The "Exceptional Medically Underserved Population" Designation as a Health-Justice Tool for Pennsylvanians with Disabilities
ACHIEVA/The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh
711 Bingham Street
ACHIEVA/ARC of Greater Pittsburgh provides lifelong supports for Pennsylvanians with disabilities as well as advocates for policies that will positively impact the disability community. ACHIEVA/Arc of Greater Pittsburgh is applying for 2021 funding through the Advancing Health Equity through Oral Health Fund, specifically under the Strengthen Community Voice and State Advocacy Sub-Program. As its founding mission, ACHIEVA/Arc of Greater Pittsburgh strives toward equity, health and otherwise, for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The work proposed in 2021 builds upon accomplishments in 2020, which included a new element: listening sessions with their clients and oral healthcare providers. The realizations brought to light acutely informed ACHEIVA/Arc of Greater Pittsburgh’s action plan for this year, consistent with the grant strategy’s guiding principles of community engagement and community voice. ACHIEVA/Arc of Greater Pittsburgh’s work will focus on two key activities. The organization will work with other disability advocates in the state of PA to complete a Governor’s Exception Medically Underserved Population designation application. This will allow for increase funding for further training, grants, and other resources, including reimbursement incentives and visa-waivers to fortify the oral health workforce engaged in treating patients with disabilities. ACHIEVA/Arc of Greater Pittsburgh will also reduce misconceptions about oral healthcare in the Direct Service Professional (DSP) network by developing a curriculum informing DSPs how they can support their clients’ oral hygiene habits. DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement (DentaQuest Partnership) has supported ACHIEVA/Arc of Greater Pittsburgh in varying amounts since 2015, ranging from $10,000-$130,000. Their work has been consistent in general scope: working in coalition to reinstate, maintain, and expand a Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit in PA, recognizing that it will positively impact the disability community, and providing education for oral healthcare providers to increase the number of dentists able to deliver competent care to the disability community. ACHIEVA/Arc of Greater Pittsburgh has garnered a significant amount of legislative support for all of their policy issues in any given year, and is an active member of the OPEN Network, frequently sharing successes with other disability advocates. This year’s work is particularly innovative and could be shared as a learning model for other DQP grantees seeking to support oral healthcare access for the disability community.