One of Six States to Receive an “A” Grade
WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Iowa is a national leader in addressing the dental health needs of its children, according to a report released by the Pew Center on the States. The Cost of Delay: State Dental Policies Fail One in Five Children, released with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the DentaQuest Foundation, grades each state's policy responses to the urgent challenges in dental health among America's children.
Iowa received an "A" grade for surpassing the national benchmark on six of eight policies in Pew's analysis. More than 90 percent of its population on community water systems benefits from fluoridated water, and more than 50 percent of its high-risk schools have sealant programs in place that help protect children's teeth from cavities. Iowa's Medicaid program outperforms the nation in getting services to children. In 2007, nearly 47 percent of Medicaid-enrolled children received care. Despite the recession's strain on its budget, Iowa has continued to invest in children's dental health. It is the first state to take advantage of the newly instituted option under the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) law that allows states to extend dental benefits to children in families with medical, but not dental, coverage.
"Iowa policy makers are leading the way in providing cost-effective dental care to the children who most need it," said Shelly Gehshan, director of the Pew Children's Dental Campaign. "That doesn't mean their job is done. There are additional measures that can help eliminate the long-term health and economic consequences of untreated dental disease among kids."
February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Nationwide, an estimated one in five children, or 17 million, goes without dental care each year and two thirds of states do not have key policies in place to ensure proper dental health and access to care for children.
Pew scored all 50 states and the District of Columbia, using an A-F scale, on whether and how well they are employing eight proven policy solutions at their disposal to ensure dental health and access to care for children. These policies fall into four categories: cost-effective ways to help prevent problems from occurring in the first place; Medicaid improvements that enable and motivate more dentists to treat children; new workforce models that expand the number of qualified dental providers; and gathering data to gauge progress and improve performance.
Iowa and five other states merited "A" grades: Connecticut, Maryland, New Mexico, Rhode Island and South Carolina. These states met at least six of the eight policy benchmarks and had policies in place that met or exceeded the national performance standards. Nine states received a grade of "B": Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, Ohio, Texas and Washington. Twenty states received a grade of "C" because they met four or fewer of the eight policy benchmarks. Six states and the District of Columbia earned a "D" grade: Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada and Utah. Nine states earned an "F," meeting only one or two policy benchmarks: Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, Hawaii, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming. No state met all eight targets. New Jersey ranked lowest in the nation, meeting only one benchmark.
There are many solutions that can be achieved at relatively little cost and the return on investment for children and taxpayers will be significant. Americans are expected to spend $106 billion on dental care in 2010. This includes many expensive restorative treatments -- from fillings to root canals -- that could have been mitigated or avoided altogether with earlier, easier and less expensive ways of ensuring adequate dental care when they were children.
Report Shows Need for Low-Cost Solutions
The Pew report highlights four proven solutions that can improve both the dental health of children and their access to care:
The report can be found at: www.pewcenteronthestates.org/costofdelay
The Pew Children's Dental Campaign works to promote policies that will help millions of children maintain healthy teeth, get the care they need and come to school ready to learn.
Pew Center on the States
The Pew Center on the States is a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts that identifies and advances effective solutions to critical issues facing states. Pew is a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. www.pewcenteronthestates.org
SOURCE The Pew Center on the StatesBack to top
|SOURCE The Pew Center on the States|
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