Policy Maker, Government & Funder

What Policy Makers, Government, and Funders Can Do

Focus Area 1: Workforce

  • Consider and support community recommendations that have merit and address access to care and workforce shortages.
  • Identify and support statewide work force solutions that will address community needs.
  • Create loan repayment incentives for new oral health providers to open practices in rural areas of Colorado.
  • Include creative incentives in funding opportunities for increasing the oral health workforce.
  • Provide financial support for ethnically and culturally diverse dental and dental hygiene students with incentives to practice in similarly diverse communities.
  • Understand general practice guidelines for dentists, dental hygienists, physicians, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants and assess current gaps in effective utilization of each provider type.
  • Evaluate how to more effectively utilize current providers and determine if changes are needed in their skill sets to meet the oral health needs of the state.
  • Work with oral health advocates to determine if and what policy changes are needed to meet the anticipated increased demand for oral health services.
  • Expand the scope of foreign-trained dentists to include service to underserved areas.
  • Provide funding to support training and equipment needs for mobile and/or direct access dental hygiene and sealant programs.
  • Increase reimbursable procedures, especially for adults with chronic diseases that may be exacerbated by poor oral health.
  • Require oral health be part of continuing education requirements for medical providers.
  • Include funding for medical providers to provide oral health assessments and fluoride varnish applications for populations older than 5 years of age.
  • Require Cavity Free at Three training for all Dental and Medical Loan Repayment recipients.

Focus Area 2: Infrastructure

  • Ensure that evidenced-based practices are used throughout the oral health delivery system (through policy and funding priorities).
  • Ensure that oral health is recognized as an important component of general health and is included as systems of care and financing are developed.
  • Identify areas of highest need (services and geographic ).
  • Collaborate in a planning process that addresses identified needs and closes gaps in oral health care.
  • Ensure that oral health gains recognition as a critical component of the public health infrastructure.
  • Assist in developing, funding and promoting public education campaigns focused on the benefits of fluoridated community water supplies and sealants.
  • Support local efforts to introduce fluoride into the water supplies of non-fluoridated communities.
  • Speak up to combat misinformation promulgated by anti-fluoride advocates.

Focus Area 3: Financing

  • Evaluate the benefits of public insurance for oral health and support benefits that are evidence-based.
  • Develop a clear understanding of the cost of providing dental care in Emergency Departments.
  • Allocate benefit resources in ways that ensure long-term cost effectiveness, even if there is an initial cost for implementation.
  • Consider innovative payer systems that will decrease program administrative costs.
  • Ensure that by 2014, private insurance programs that cover children’s oral health reimburse for risk-based services.
  • Develop reimbursement mechanisms that recognize the scope of practice of direct access hygienists and ensure that reimbursement is consistent, regardless of the location of service provision.
  • Recognize the need for oral health services for adult populations and the long-term benefits of improved health outcomes and decreased expenses.
  • Fund pilot projects for adult dental care that can be evaluated for efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Ensure that progress made toward funding oral health care for pregnant women and older adults is continued and expanded.
  • Ensure that written materials about dental benefits are written at an appropriate reading level and are available in English and Spanish.
  • Collaborate with service providers to identify the primary barriers to seeking oral health care, and initiate systems solutions that help to overcome those barriers.
  • Make Medicaid look like “normal” insurance so providers cannot distinguish between private and public payers and stigmatize Medicaid patients.
  • Collaborate with oral health advocates to initiate communications campaigns that focus on utilization of dental benefits.

Focus Area 4: Systems of Care

  • Provide enhanced Medicaid reimbursement for preventive services for children younger than 5 years of age.
  • Streamline the Medicaid application for dentists and dental hygienists, eliminating this barrier to Medicaid participation.
  • Ensure that dental hygienists can be reimbursed for services rendered outside of the office setting regardless of the insurance being billed.
  • Align the state’s Medicaid dental benefit with evidence-based dentistry and incentivize preventive care.
  • Conduct a statewide education campaign with providers to reduce hospital-based care for dental procedures and to promote prevention starting at an early age.
  • Include an adult dental benefit for pregnant women and other adults insured by Medicaid.
  • Ensure that Old Age Pension (OAP) dental benefits receive continued funding.
  • Provide enhanced Medicaid and CHP reimbursement for preventive services for children under the age of 5 years.
  • Work to include oral health services and a dental home as part of Accountable Care Organizations in Colorado.
  • Support public service campaigns designed to reduce the rate of early childhood caries.

Focus Area 5: Health Promotion

  • Be aware of current policies related to oral health.
  • Include oral screenings concurrently with school hearing and vision screenings.
  • Fund oral health social marketing and awareness campaigns (e.g., “Mom Like Me,” “Highlands Mommies”).
  • Fund evaluation and measurement of oral health awareness and social marketing campaigns.
  • Include nutrition education and promotion of overall health as a part of oral health education requirements.
  • Ensure access by all to affordable and nutritious food.
  • Fund oral health social marketing and awareness campaigns.
  • Fund studies that assess the relationship between childhood obesity and oral health status or caries rates.
  • Provide information and resources for new moms leaving the hospital that include oral hygiene information and supplies.
  • Provide opportunities for children to brush their teeth when they are in a location for four hours or more or have had a meal .
  • Fund oral health social marketing and awareness campaigns.
  • Expand Cavity Free at Three to programs serving at-risk families (e.g., childcare, WIC).
  • Strengthen the connections between Older Americans Act meal sites and oral health services.
  • Provide referral and access to resources for older adults needing oral health services.
  • Promote fluoride varnishes as one of the oral health benefits paid for through Title III funds throughout the Colorado Aging Network.
  • Fund oral health social marketing and awareness campaigns.
  • Fund mobile/portable outreach to homebound elderly populations.
  • Fund development and/or implementation of a Cavity Free at Three type of education project for older adults where providers are trained.

Focus Area 6: Health Equity

  • Strengthen the connections between Older Americans Act meal sites and oral health services. Provide referral and access to resources for older adults needing oral health services.
  • Promote fluoride varnishes as one of the oral health services available through Older Americans Act Title III services and State Funds for Senior Services throughout the Colorado Aging Network.
  • Establish a Medicaid benefit for adults, with priority given to pregnant women.
  • Require an oral screening in public schools similar to what is currently done for vision and hearing.
  • Support legislation that increases public water fluoridation.
  • Develop and support policies that ensure access to oral health services.
  • Consider increasing reimbursement rates for provision of evidence-based care.
  • Support the establishment of an extensive oral health surveillance system.
  • Ensure that oral health is a part of the all-payer data base.
  • Ensure collection of ER and OR data that is related to oral health.
  • Encourage the use of an oral health screening as a school readiness indicator.
  • Support increased health infrastructure in schools (eg. nurses, health aides, dental hygienists)
  • Ensure healthy and nutritious school menus and vending machine selections


Community Health Organization

Those who influence or determine laws, policies, practices, and funding at a federal, state, regional, or local level.