Grant Project Title
Stregnthening Oral Health Advocacy in Florida
Grantee Address

Florida Voices for Health
12978 SouthWest 44th Street
Miramar, FL
United States

Florida Voices for Health (FVH) is a coalition of community organizations, businesses, and individuals working to reform health and oral health care and coverage in Florida. The organization works especially hard to make sure that the stories of hard-working, low- and moderate-income Floridians are represented in the health reform efforts.

Last year, CareQuest Institute grant funds were used to launch a story and data collection effort that included roundtables, interviews, and quantitative data analysis to better understand the barriers that exist for Floridians. The organization collected over 60 oral health stories from these efforts and 47 of them have featured Floridians from communities of color, rural communities, and the disabilities communities. FVH also facilitated convenings between legislators and community members and successfully drove more than 1,000 of their constituents to contact lawmakers in favor of expanding access to care. Finally, through FVH’s work during the past grant period, the state of Florida continues to move in a direction ripe for change. FVH is actively creating and fostering partnerships with health coalitions, agencies, and leaders throughout the state, including some CareQuest Institute grantees also working in the state (FIHI & FLDA), to make a stronger push for the inclusion of the Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit in early 2023.

The organization plans to continue its work around oral health systems change by continuing its consumer/patient engagement efforts to reinforce the feedback loops created last year, as well as developing educational opportunities for legislators and public leaders. FVH will continue to engage the public, support new and existing partners in FL, and expand its media reach to maintain visibility for those without access to care.

This request comes through the Strengthen Community Voice and State Advocacy subprogram. FVH is focusing its advocacy strategy on deeper engagement with impacted individuals, providers and stakeholders, lawmakers, and through the process, media, and in-state funders. Consumers are central to FVH’s work and their stories are being captured and leveraged in the organization’s efforts to raise awareness of the need among lawmakers. Florida Medicaid dental benefits are limited largely to emergency dental services to alleviate pain, infection, or to prepare the mouth for dentures. FVH also noted that there is no clarity about what non-emergency dental benefits are provided through FL Medicaid Dental Managed Care.

Florida Voices for Health will continue to collect stories, identify, and train leaders, and connect people to opportunities for advocacy. There is a full-time Story Banker who captures stories and information through interviews and focus groups for an increasing number of participants. The patient referral network will expand through targeted ads and social media and now includes partnerships with the University of Florida’s Equal Access Clinic and the Family Healthcare Foundation Navigators. These efforts could take some time to produce the desired outcomes, but FVH will be working with communities not only as points of data, but as budding advocates within the oral health space.

FVH also wants to serve as a central organization for oral health in the state, convening partners around the development of a state oral health plan. The organization has already received a commitment from the Florida Department of Health to engage in this process. In addition to individuals, FVH plans to grow its base of partners for the inclusion of a Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit through a coordinated communications plan. FVH also sees lawmakers as partners and will share data, stories, and solutions with decision-makers. Legislative outreach this year may be more challenging given it is an election year, but the work will continue with a focus on engaging those who aren’t up for reelection until after November.

For other stakeholders, FVH is proposing to grow and formalize the OPEN Florida coalition by convening partners around the development of a state oral health plan. There is a commitment from the FL Department of Health to align work on this project and it will include a wide range of individuals and organizations (patient advocacy, impacted people, government agencies, etc.) The first step in this effort is to complete an assessment of the current oral health landscape through the distribution of a survey tool that is designed to identify barriers to care, viable policy solutions, and the capacity of FVH’s partners to take on these various activities.

This request is for $179,300, which is matched by $125,550 from the organization and includes a 10% indirect expense rate. The proposal budget focuses largely on staff salaries (ED, Program Dir., Marketing Spec., Comm. Organizer, Coalition Manager, Disability Coordinator). Funding for this project will support staff to collect community stories, host roundtables, convene other oral health and health partners in the development of a new state oral health plan, and enable improved outreach to target audiences who have been historically impacted by the materials being produced. Overall, the request makes up 41% of the organization’s budget.

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