Possible Talking Points and Strategies
Regarding Cuts in Adult Medicaid Benefits
Most legislators know very little about dentistry. The majority have little knowledge about your education or the costs of running a dental practice. Therefore, when talking to a legislator regarding any issue you first have to grab their attention. We have found that one of the most effective ways to do this is to make the story personal. Legislators need to hear how it will affect YOUR patients, YOUR practice, YOUR staff and YOUR community. Remember, all of those affected are potential voters. (Since this is an election year, this fact will not be lost on most legislators.)
Suggestion: Invite your legislator to meet with you at your office. This puts you on your home turf where you should feel more comfortable. Give your legislator a tour of your office. Point out all of the equipment, especially x-ray machines and sterilization equipment. Talk about the costs of this equipment and the investment you have made to treat patients in a safe environment. If you use photography in your practice, show your legislator graphic images of rampant decay and explain the potential consequences of dental infections.
Here are some other points you may want to consider discussing with your legislator:
- Reports from the US Surgeon General validate the importance of maintaining one’s oral health in order to preserve one’s general health
- Cutting preventive services for adults will likely lead to more decay and periodontal disease which will result in more expensive treatment and/or tooth loss.
- By terminating benefits for restorative services, adults who cannot afford to have their decayed teeth filled will elect to have them removed. Tooth loss not only affects dental health, it also affects one’s diet by limiting the patient’s ability to chew. It also affects one’s self esteem, speech, and appearance which negatively impacts the patient’s ability to get job and become self-sufficient.
- Several dentists have set up their practices to primarily serve the Medicaid population. Cutting Dental Medicaid Benefits will not only deprive patients of the care they need, it will also force these dentists to layoff or terminate employees.
- ECU's Community Service Learning Centers (CSLCs) will have a focus and presence in the rural/underserved areas across the state. Dental Medicaid coverage is an essential element of our business plan since Medicaid patients will be our primary insured patients. Providing dental care for adult underserved patients with Medicaid is a significant part of the equation.
- When all ten of our CSLCs are fully operational we anticipate that intitially up to 20% of our patients will be adult Medicaid. Because of our educational mission, we will be seeking to grow the number of adult patients so we can provide a full range of general dental care (and experience for our students and residents) to all age groups.
- For many adults, especially those with disabilities and those requiring special care, Medicaid is their only source of assistance for dental care. To either eliminate dental Medicaid or limit it to emergency treatment will place an unfair burden on that population and limit our ability to provide home iwth preventive and restorative care.
If you have additional questions or ideas, please contact Lisa Ward at 919.234.4024