Grant Project Title
Increasing Access to Oral Health Care for Underserved Arizonans.
Grantee Address

Children's Action Alliance
3030 N. 3rd Street, Ste 760
United States

Children’s Action Alliance, based in AZ, is an independent voice that identifies and eliminates barriers to the well-being of children and families and creates opportunities through partnerships and policy solutions.

In 2021, CAA/AZOHC led a series of new regulatory and legislative efforts focused on expanding Medicaid coverage and disaggregating state data. As a result of these efforts, both CAA and AZOHC build capacity and infrastructure in new ways. One of the ways this can be seen is through the creation of a legislative sign on letter in support of expanding Medicaid dental benefits to pregnant beneficiaries that garnered the support of 50+ state and local organizations across Arizona. One notable milestone in 2021 was that CAA/AZOHC partnered with the CareQuest Institute Analytics and Evaluation Team to gain access to disaggregated pediatric Medicaid utilization data and to develop data visuals and reports highlighting racial and ethnic disparities in the state. This report was the first of its kind and will be a significant tool in upcoming policy efforts.

In 2022, Children’s Action Alliance, in partnership with the Arizona Oral Health Coalition, is seeking funding to capitalize on the momentum of 2021 to pursue legislative and administrative advocacy around three oral health equity issues.

As a primary focus, CAA/AZOHC will advocate for comprehensive oral health coverage for adult Medicaid participants. Expansion of oral health benefits in Medicaid has been a priority for CAA/AZOHC, and in past years, the organization has taken an incremental approach to advancing these efforts and now feels that the environment is conducive to overall comprehensive benefit advocacy. While the AZ legislative landscape is complex with many competing priorities, CAA/AZOHC has proactively strategized around the challenges they anticipate facing in 2022. Advocacy activities include hosting meetings and listening sessions with Medicaid participants and sharing their stories as part of an adult dental benefit campaign; developing a web page for the campaign; promoting data and findings from the recent ED utilization study, developed in collaboration with CareQuest Institute’s Analytics and Evaluation team; and hosting a legislative lobby day in support of adult dental bills or advocacy of inclusion of a benefit as part of the 2023 budget.

CAA/AZOHC has also identified two administrative advocacy opportunities for 2022 that will promote network adequacy in AZ. CAA/AZOHC will work to increase awareness of teledentistry and alternative workforce models. As part of this effort, CAA/AZOHC will leverage the partnership with A.T. Still University to advance the broad adoption of synchronous and asynchronous teledentistry within managed care plans. CAA/AZOHC will also pursue opportunities to expand opportunities for use of teledentistry by affiliated practice hygienists and other high-level practitioners. This also will include strategic support for implementation of dental therapy in Arizona supported by recent research related to utilization of EPSDT dental care in the pediatric oral health network, sponsored by CareQuest Institute.

Lastly, CAA/AZOHC will develop and deliver educational opportunities for providers and payers on critical topics to promote understanding of social determinant of health factors and their role in oral health. CAA/AZOHC will partner with A.T. Still University, Arizona Dental Hygienists Association and Arizona Dental Association to develop a curriculum on social determinants of health (SDOH) that will include SDOH screening and participation in AZ’s new Closed Loop Referral Program for interested clinics to pilot as part of a larger research project.

CAA/AZOHC has forged relationships within the past year with several partner organizations representing under-resourced groups in AZ to ensure that their work is reflective of the needs of these populations. Groups include the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care, Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, Asian Pacific Community in Action, Black Nurses Association, and Native American Connections. CAA/AZOHC also host regular listening sessions with community health workers / representatives (CHW/Rs), promotoras, health care navigators, Tribal members, and individuals living in public housing to inform their work and strategy. CAA/AZOHC has also adapted Community Catalyst’s Policy Equity Tool to fit their organization’s needs and assess each of their policy priorities before action is taken.

Approximately $107,000 of the budget is allocated toward staff time. Other line items are largely administrative, including coalition/convening expenses, and story collection activities. This request represents about 7% of the organization’s overall budget.

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