When Governor Hickenlooper put oral health in the top third of the state’s winnable battles list in 2012, it created momentum towards a number of successes this legislative session. “We’re excited to see that Colorado is doing a lot of things right towards improving the oral health of citizens, especially in offering preventive care that can avert serious health problems down the road,” said Karen Cody Carlson, Oral Health Colorado (OHCO) Executive Director.
Through the collaborative work of many oral health advocates around the state, the following bills passed that will have a positive impact on the oral health of all:
- A dental benefit was added for all adults covered by Medicaid, including pregnant women, parents, adults without dependent children and adults with disabilities. The Department of Health Care Policy and Finance (HCPF) will convene a group of stakeholders to design the dental benefit and implement services by April 1, 2014.
- Medicaid expansion to increase the income eligibility for the Medicaid program to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, with a goal of improving the health of the state’s most vulnerable while reducing costly and uncompensated care for the uninsured. It is expected to cover an additional 160,000 adults with family incomes below $31,322 for a family of four and is effective January 1, 2014. This bill, along with the hospital provider fee and federal matching funds, will also allow for the implementation of 12-month continuous eligibility for children covered by Medicaid.
- Elimination of the current three-month waiting period for CHP+ that required some children to be uninsured for three months before applying for the program.
- An increase of 4.5% in reimbursement for Medicaid providers of dental services, except for those providers at Federally Qualified Health Centers who will receive a 2% increase.
- Medicaid reimbursement for School Based Health Centers for oral health risk assessment and fluoride varnish services provided by primary care providers to school-age children.
- Creation of an Oral Health Community Grants Program in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) which will provide grants for school programs to prevent tooth decay, fluoridation of water supply systems, and other evidence-based programs that promote oral health.
OHCO is a statewide oral health coalition that convenes and mobilizes individuals, organizations and communities to ensure the best oral health for all Coloradans. OHCO receives financial and in-kind support from the Caring for Colorado Foundation, Delta Dental Foundation of Colorado, the Colorado Health Foundation, and Rose Community Foundation. OHCO is one of 18 states to receive an Oral Health 2014 implementation grant from the DentaQuest Foundation to support state-level work that will collectively impact the oral health of all.
“Connecting key stakeholders and critical partners and acting strategically to leverage policy, funding, community and care systems are important roles for OHCO. We’re energized by the positive outcomes from this legislative session, and are looking ahead to similar successes in the near future,” shared Carlson. OHCO will take the lead in developing and introducing legislation next year that will secure a pediatric dental benefit as a mandated benefit in insurance plans offered inside the new health insurance exchange (Connect Colorado).
The mission of Oral Health Colorado is “to develop and promote strategies that achieve optimal oral health for all Coloradans.” For more information, visit http://oralhealthcolorado.org.