Better Access to Dental Care Needed in Michigan
A lot of Michigan residents require better access to dental care. Some people can’t smile anymore because they have oral problems. During the Mission of Mercy event last May 30 to 31, around 858 patients got free dental care. Mission of Mercy is a joint event of the MDA Foundation and the Michigan Dental Association, with support from Delta Dental, Mecosta County Community Foundation, and the Michigan Department of Community Health.
Michigan has tried to expand access to oral health care but the response to the recent Mission of Mercy indicated that a lot of people still don’t have access to good oral health. Oral health is important to overall health and access to care has broad implications to the state and the local community. Increasing access is vital to dentists from the state.
Governor Rick Snyder and the state lawmakers have expended Michigan’s Healthy Kids Dental program for children qualified for Medicaid. The program will reach 80 of the state’s 83 counties. But even with the expansion of the program, 410,000 children are still not included. The program establishes a dental home for children and gives regular preventive care. MDA member dentists support the expansion of the program.
Michigan’s new Healthy Michigan plan will provide care for as many as 470,000 people that include the low income earners. The new legislation that regulates mobile dental services also improves access to comprehensive oral health care. Starting next April, mobile dental operators are now required to refer patients to a local dentist and they need to share patient records. This ensures that the patients get follow up care.
Most areas of Michigan need more dentists. The MDA has been working with the state legislators to pass Michigan Senate Bills 648 and 649 that are still waiting for the signature of Governor Snyder. The bills would allow dentists to get student loan repayment assistance for providing care in areas with dental care shortage.