Kentucky Youth Advocates
10200 Linn Station Road
Kentucky Oral Health Coalition (KOHC), a project under Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA), operates as a non-partisan entity that leverages its relationships with Republican leadership in the House and Senate and the Democratic Governor’s office to effectively advocate for Medicaid investments in oral health care throughout the state.
Kentucky Youth Advocates has received grants from CareQuest Institute in the past to support advocacy efforts that improve oral health such as e-cigarette taxes and strengthened licensed childcare program standards on healthy eating and drinking. Historically, Medicaid funding for oral health care in Kentucky has been a point of contention in the state budget and KYA hopes to serve as an advocate voice to preserve the progress made toward improved coverage and access seen over the past two years.
KOCH submitted this request under the Strengthen Community Voice and State Advocacy subprogram of the Advancing Equity through Oral Health fund. The alignment with CareQuest Institute’s oral health systems-change efforts is clear based on the proposal and the specific attention to community engagement is particularly important. The organization is continuing its oral health advocacy efforts for a state budget that prioritizes Medicaid funding. A grant to support these efforts would take advantage of the increased awareness around health inequities created by the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on those without coverage as well as sustain the momentum the organization has created within the state. In addition to advancing policy advocacy efforts around Medicaid, KOHC plans to advocate for Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) to be fully funded by the state. If funded, many Kentuckians will gain access to important care.
KOHC is made up of over 450 members and stakeholders who come from all positions of the grass blade. Continued engagement of the broader membership is a critical component of this proposal as the organization sources potential policy priorities based on feedback from members and statewide partners. The proposal notes that there will be specific attention paid to partnerships and data collection with the Latinx community to identify barriers to accessing health coverage and care and develop solutions around oral health access. The proposal also mentions a data collection effort that will lead to a better understanding of the barriers to access and enrollment that exist in Kentucky. In addition to continued data collection and analysis, KOHC will engage its membership by preparing materials and plans to educate House and Senate staff at a variety of levels. KOHC will develop fact sheets and other materials to equip advocates to support Medicaid advocacy efforts. A full awareness campaign will include story banking from communities of color and underserved communities.
This proposal also outlines other key policy advocacy efforts that KOHC will be engaged in. First, KOHC will continue to monitor the implementation and use of teledentistry in the state of Kentucky with intentions to protect and expand its use. The organization will also be addressing potential policy changes that would weaken several community water fluoridation programs. Finally, community engagement around policy-related efforts is a priority that will be accomplished through direct meetings and collaborative advocacy. Oral health policy advocacy will be included in those efforts as well as work to address other key aspects of Medicaid for those struggling to secure or utilize benefits.
The request for $125,000 to support Medicaid advocacy activities and coalition engagement would make up 3% of KYA’s total organizational budget. The majority of funding will be allocated to staff time (74%), primarily positions associated with oral health policy and advocacy work proposed, with additional funds going toward materials, events, and contracts with community partners representing underserved populations.