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Families USA is a non-partisan voice for health care consumers, dedicated to achieving high-quality, affordable health care and improved health for all. Families USA has been a funded partner of CareQuest Institute since 2016 with the primary goal to advance Medicare and Medicaid oral health policy. Major activities of the Oral Health for All Campaign last year included significant advocacy for the passage of Medicare dental benefits through the Build Back Better bill, advocacy for mandatory Medicaid adult dental coverage nationally, and state-level Medicaid advocacy and technical assistance for state-based partners.
Families USA is seeking funding to continue its systems-change work in a few key policy areas. Families USA acknowledges in their proposal the unlikeliness that Congress will pass major oral health legislation within this election year. Therefore, the primary opportunity for Medicare advocacy is identified as the inclusion of “medically necessary” dental coverage within Medicare through CMS. Medically necessary oral health care refers to treatment deemed necessary by a physician when a patient’s medical condition or treatment is or will likely be complicated by an untreated oral health problem. Families USA will partner with legislators to develop a “Dear Colleague” letter, urging sign-on support by other policy makers, as well as meet directly with two key legislators/policymakers to educate and advocate on this platform. Families USA will work to expand support of medically necessary coverage on a national, state and community level by developing a “community statement” document and will coordinate efforts with the Coalition on Medically Necessary Coverage.
The second opportunity Families USA has identified is the improvement of Medicaid adult dental benefits on a federal level, as well as protection of existing coverage. Activities under this area of work include hosting a convening of multi-level oral health leaders to establish a strategy to advance Medicaid adult dental coverage through the Biden administration’s health and equity agendas, meeting with White House and/or DHHS staff about Medicaid adult dental improvements, and work with multi-lateral partners to advocate for improved federal policies to protect Medicaid beneficiaries from unnecessarily losing coverage in the Medicaid redeterminations process, which is upcoming as the public health emergency ends this year.
On a state level, Families USA will work with up to three key states, providing technical assistance for advocacy partners to advance Medicaid dental benefits in their respective states. Following this work, Families USA will produce at least one publication that elevates state level success. As part of this technical assistance, Families USA will also support community-level partners in providing education around the threats to coverage as a result of Medicaid redeterminations.
In order to maximize on the momentum built in 2021 and 2022 around Medicare and Medicaid policy, Families USA will continue to convene and grow the Medicare Oral Health Coalition, with the intention of expanding partnerships in the coalition to include community leaders, specifically organizations representing communities of color and the disability community. Families USA will also convene monthly meetings with National Partner Organizations to build alignment. CareQuest Institute staff have been active in both the Medicare Oral Health Coalition and the National Partner meetings. Additionally, Families USA will work with Community Catalyst and other partners in support of OPEN and provide resources and information to help other organizations advocate for oral health policies.
Part of this momentum-building includes leveraging Families USA’s current relationships with federal policymakers including representatives from the House Ways & Means Committee, Energy & Commerce Committee, Senate Finance and Aging Committees, and engagement with new candidates running for office in 2022.
The last piece of this momentum-building work is revising the Oral Health for All’s campaigns communications strategy to focus attention on short-term achievable policy solutions, while also maintaining pressure for broader federal legislation in the long term.
Underlying the activities in this proposal is new organizational energy around advancing the Oral Health for All Campaign’s health and racial equity focus and increasing bi-directional relationships with leaders form historically marginalized communities. Families USA will conduct structured interviews with leaders of historically marginalized communities to inform their organizational strategy on health equity, provide stipends to these organizations participating in Oral Health for All Campaign activities, dedicate a portion of the new Senior Director of Health Equity’s time to the Oral Health for All campaign, and hire an oral health equity intern. Families USA will host one public event featuring the voices of historically marginalized community leaders and facilitate opportunities for community leaders to meet directly with key federal lawmakers.
The initial budget request for this proposal was $700,000. In order to align the budget amount, activities, and outcomes, grants team staff have worked with Families USA to recommend a funding level of $525,000. This new level will align the Families USA budget with other national partners without sacrificing essential components of the work to advance oral health policy. Approximately $438,000 of funding is allocated for staff time. Other budget line items are associated with hosting meetings, attendance fees, travel, stipends for community organizations. This request represents about 7% of the organization’s overall budget.