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Highmark Foundation Awards $1.9 Million to Improve Access to Oral Health and Dental Care for Underserved Populations in Pennsylvania
Date:2/3/2009

Grants will fund access to oral health care programs for the uninsured, underinsured and those with special needs

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Health studies indicate that oral health is directly related to an individual's overall health. The Highmark Foundation recently awarded $1.9 million in grants to 21 oral health programs across its 49-county Pennsylvania service region to help improve access to oral health and dental care programs for low-income, rural and uninsured populations.

"Oral and dental diseases can have health and social impacts on the community," said Yvonne Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation. "Inadequate oral health has been linked to more serious conditions such as diabetes, stroke and heart and lung diseases. Poor oral health, especially tooth decay, can affect academic achievement in children and lead to missed days of school, result in missed employment opportunities for adults and affect overall quality of life for all individuals."

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), millions of American children and adults lack regular access to routine dental care. Access to care is a significant problem with low-income families being impacted the most.

"We know that the inability to pay for dental care, limited dental benefits and a lack of dentists available to serve low-income populations can prevent individuals from receiving routine dental care," said Cook. "Through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process, the Highmark Foundation invited safety-net providers, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), FQHC look-alikes, community health clinics, rural health clinics, free clinics, health departments and hospital-based clinics, to apply for grants that would help increase access to care and establish oral care programs that impact the communities served by Highmark."

The Highmark Foundation's goal, through the
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SOURCE The Highmark Foundation
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