Addressing Oral Health of Low-Income Populations: A Call to Action

Published 09/30/2021

A new commentary in JAMA Network Open underscores the importance of strengthening Medicaid benefits to include dental coverage. In the commentary, a response to “Addressing Oral Health of Low-Income Populations: A Call to Action,” authors Tamanna Tiwari, MPH, MDS, BDS, and CareQuest Institute’s Julie Franstve-Hawley, PhD, CAE, write that “it is imperative to have a concerted call to action for federal policy that mandates comprehensive, nationwide adult dental benefits as a permanent part of Medicaid.”

Hawley and Tiwari go on to outline the mandate that would include:

  • Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment as a way to maintain consistency of access and provider participation
  • A benefit that is extensive enough to promote oral health, better outcomes, and cost savings for dental and medical costs
  • Data integration and interoperability to enable knowledge, quality improvement, and payment reform.

The commentary was in response to the article and study that suggested that the combination of Medicaid expansion and addition of Medicaid dental benefits not only improved coverage and access to dental care among low-income adults but also produced significant improvements in clinical indicators of oral health.

View the article

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