WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An estimated one in five children in America go without dental care each year and two thirds of states do not have effective policies in place to ensure proper dental health and access to care, according to a report 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 low-income children. February is National Children's Dental Health Month.
"Millions of children go without dental care each year but the good news is, it's fixable," said Shelly Gehshan, director of the Pew Children's Dental Campaign. "By enacting a handful of effective policies, states can help eliminate the long-term health and economic consequences of untreated dental problems among kids. Several states are leading the way—but all states can and must do more to ensure access to dental care for the 17 million children left out of the system."
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 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 disadvantaged children; new workforce models that expand the number of qualified dental providers; and gathering data to gauge progress and improve performance.
Only six states merited "A" grades: Connecticut, Iowa, 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. These high grades do not mean that all people in the state have access to quality dental care services. Severe access problems still exist in states that received "A" grades, but these states have policies in place needed to improve dental care.
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.
"The challenge of ensuring disadvantaged children's dental health and access to care is one that can be overcome," said Ralph Fuccillo, president, the DentaQuest Foundation. "We hope states will use the information in this report to make improvements in dental care for children. There are a variety of solutions that can be achieved at relatively little cost; the return on investment for children and taxpayers is promising."
"Unfortunately, while some states are improving access to oral health care, there are still millions of children and families – especially those who are poor and live in communities of color – who can't gain access to the care that exists," said Sterling K. Speirn, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. "States need to explore creative workforce solutions, such as the dental therapist model, for addressing this glaring gap in our health care system, and improving access to quality oral health care for all children."
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
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
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Established in 1930, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and southern Africa.
The DentaQuest Foundation (www.dentaquestfoundation.org) is committed to optimal oral health for all Americans through its support of prevention and access to affordable oral health care, and through partnerships with philanthropies, policy makers and community leaders.
SOURCE The Pew Center on the StatesBack to top
|SOURCE The Pew Center on the States|
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