Oral Health is one of the four priority areas of the Foundation. Recognizing the link between oral health and general overall health, the Foundation has invested significant dollars in addressing oral health not only through its responsive grantmaking program but also through public policy and advocacy.
In 2004, the Florida legislature approved a two-year managed care pilot for oral health services provided under Medicaid. The Medicaid Pre-Paid Dental Pilot, limited to Miami-Dade County, ended in August of 2006. Prior to 2004, Florida contracted directly with dentists under a fee-for-service system. Under the Pilot, a capitated system was put into place where dentists agree to be responsible for a panel of patients and their dental care needs and are paid a fixed dollar amount each month for each patient, whether or not the patient receives treatment.
Given the potential impact on access to oral health care needs, the Foundation commissioned Community Voices/Collins Center for Public Policy to conduct an evaluation which led to the development of two policy briefs: Understanding the Impacts of Florida’s Medicaid Pre-Paid Dental Pilot and Florida’s Medicaid Pre-Paid Dental Pilot: 2007 Update.
The Foundation has continued its advocacy related strategies and in early 2010 initiated conversations with various community stakeholders including the Director of the Miami Dade County Health Department Division of Environmental Health & Engineering, the Miami Dade County Health Department Drinking Water Program Manager, the Miami Dade County Dental Director and the City Engineer of Florida City to explore bringing a resolution to Florida City Commissioners for a community fluoridation program. Since then, the City Engineer has received approval to bring a resolution to approve fluoridation before the Commissioners on April 13, 2010. For a copy of letter sent to Florida City Commissioners please click here.
Other advocacy related priorities include changing the supervision definition governing dental hygienists to enable licensed, registered dental hygienists to perform vital preventive oral health services in “health access settings”. HFSF staff works closely with the Florida Dental Hygiene Association in supporting their advocacy towards making these changes.
The Foundation believes that increasing Medicaid provider reimbursements is essential to increasing access to oral health care and ensuring that an adequate amount of Medicaid providers are available to see patients. Attempts have been made but to no avail. This continues to be a public policy priority for the Foundation.