A Roadmap for Implementation - Part I: Oral Health Provisions in Health Reform
The first of two white papers on the oral health provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), A Roadmap for Implementation, Part I: Oral Health Provisions in Health Reform focuses on the oral health promotion provisions in the new law, describes why they are needed and provides recommendations on how to move them from vision to reality.
A companion piece, A Roadmap for Implementation, Part II: Dental Care Provisions in Health Reform has been developed to similarly address the provisions concerning access and coverage, clarifying why dental care and dental coverage are important, how Medicaid, CHIPRA, and ACA work together to provide extensive dental coverage for children, and how ACA impacts the dental safety net and workforce in states. Congress ensured that dental care for children was fully integrated throughout ACA. However, the challenge now is to ensure that the numerous oral health provisions are sufficiently prioritized, supported, implemented, and evaluated so that the promise they hold can be transformed into improved oral health for all.
ACA references to oral health and dental care are not a loose potpourri of independent provisions but a coherent, fully integrated “systems fix” to a solvable health problem. The potential benefits are manifold: better health at lower cost; greater health equity; enhanced capacity for millions of children to grow, eat, play, and learn; improved general health throughout the lifespan; and –as adults – improved employability and productivity, lower costs to the US military for remedial care of inductees, and potential reductions in premature births. While this vision of the future is possible, it is only attainable if each of the oral health provisions is fully funded and implemented, if all of the provisions are effectively linked together, and if the totality of provisions is supported and subjected to ongoing oversight.
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