The Kentucky Oral Health Coalition and its partners from across the state will host a regional oral health convening Friday, July 29 in Hazard to increase dental awareness and develop strategies to address the widespread dental access issues in Eastern Kentucky, says the Kentucky Rural Health Association.
This is the third of four regional meetings this year, welcoming local policymakers, health advocates, health professionals, educators and students.
Dr. Daria “Nikki” Stone, associate professor at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry and director of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program in Hazard, will speak at the convening about the dental status of the Eastern Kentucky region.
A study on the oral health of Kentucky released this year indicates there is much to convene about. The good news is that the report found that more Kentuckians than ever had access to dental care because of Medicaid eligibility for dental insurance. Eastern Kentucky has 31 percent of the total Medicaid enrollment.
However, dental coverage for much of this population will be threatened if Gov. Matt Bevin’s new Medicaid plan is approved because it will remove this benefit for all people covered by the 2014 expansion of Medicaid eligibility and require it to be earned back through a rewards program.
|Initial graphic released by KVH|
Kentucky Voices For Health put together a chart that shows what an individual on the new Medicaid plan would have to do to get dental (and vision) benefits. They have strongly opposed this proposed change.
Dental leaders have also opposed this change saying in a news release that the removal of these benefits, “interrupts enrollment of a vulnerable Medicaid population, at the expense of quality health for the population and under the guise of controlling state expenditures,” noting that “adult dental expenditures comprise less than 2 percent of the cost drivers for the state share” of Medicaid.
|Updated graphic, provided by KVH|
The study also noted that despite more people having access, finding a dentist can still be a problem, especially in rural Kentucky where 24 Kentucky counties had fewer than 1.7 dentists per 10,000 population. It also found that even though children on Medicaid have dental insurance, more than half of them don’t get any dental care.
In addition, the report found that Kentucky ranks 10th in the percentage of adults who haven’t been to the dentist in the past year (39.7 percent); eighth in adults with permanent teeth extraction because of tooth decay or gum disease (50.3 percent); fifth in adults having six or more permanent teeth extracted (51.5 percent); and fifth in adults ages 65 and older who had all their natural teeth extracted (24.8 percent).
The convening will be at the University of Kentucky Center for Excellence in Rural Health in Hazard, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is free and open to the public, but registration is suggested. Click here to register.