Grant Project Title
Health Center Oral Health Advocacy and Workforce Pathways to Promote Equity and Access in Primary Care
Grantee Address

National Association of Community Health Centers
7501 Wisconsin Ave Suite 1100W
Bethesda, MD
United States

The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) is the national member association for community health centers, founded in 1971, which promotes efficient, high quality, comprehensive health care that is accessible, culturally and linguistically competent, community directed, and patient-centered for all. For the past 10 years, NACHC has played a variety of roles in partnership with CareQuest Institute including providing direct support to Primary Care Associations, integrating oral health into the NACHC Value-Transformation Framework, expanding the use of PRAPARE as a tool to integrate population health into oral health efforts, and advocating for oral health policy at the federal level.

In 2021, a few key successes that were achieved include:
* Implementing a peer-networking community on dental therapy in partnership with Pew Charitable Trust and Community Catalyst.

* Partnering with the VA Center for Care and Payment Innovation to implement the VETSmile pilot program.

* Partnered with A.T. Still to develop the initial framework for the "oral health workforce highway” as an operational model to build pathways for sustainable models of workforce and care that are represented by the communities they serve. Included in this is the inaugural design of the Oral Health Assistant role.

In 2021, NACHC hosted 2 Learning Forums at which CareQuest Institute staff and partners presented on oral health value-based care to the broader Elevate network that represents more than 3000 participants across all 50 states, which includes representation from 60 primary care associations and health center-controlled networks as well as more than 400 community health centers. In addition to this, NACHC included oral health presentations in each of their three major National conferences: Community Health Institute, Conference for Agricultural Worker Health, and the Policy and Issues Forum which hosted several presentations by CareQuest Institute and its partners.

In 2022, NACHC is proposing to lead four areas of work to capitalize on current opportunities to strengthen the oral health safety net and drive policy and systems change.

Core to the work of NACHC is expanding opportunities for integrating oral health into primary care. Over the course of the next year, work related to this will include activities such as expanding understanding and use of a new Multidisciplinary Model for Tobacco Cessation and hosting at least four presentations at conferences and committees on innovative oral health integration and pathway efforts to advance equity and inclusion. Related to integration, NACHC will lead an analysis of safety net dental teams that are utilizing PRAPARE to collect and use social determinants data to inform their population health efforts. As a result of this, NACHC will elevate strategies and barriers to broader adoption of the tool to drive broader utilization.

NACHC will also work to advance new workforce models and opportunities to create career entry and advancement pathways toward a workforce that reflects the populations served by community health centers. Some of this work was seeded in 2021, with the initial exploration of a new "oral health assistant" role. To build on this, this year NACHC will finalize development of core competencies for this role as well as an analysis of the regulatory barriers and opportunities associated with implementation. As an additional component of this work, NACHC will assess the progress of health centers who have added dental therapists to their care teams and develop supportive materials for advancing alternative workforce models nationally.

A third area of work is related to federal oral health policy. In 2022, NACHC will continue to serve as a partner representing community health centers nationally to advance oral health policy around opportunities such as coverage, teledentistry, workforce, and medically necessary care.

In addition to the work described above, NACHC will serve as a thought partner with CareQuest Institute to collaborate around opportunities such as deepening the role of community engagement within community health centers and the potential role of the dental safety net in advancing minimally invasive care.

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