MDAC logoJune 2009  Edition
Word of Mouth
A newsletter from the Maine Dental Access Coalition
In This Issue
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National News
Maine News
At the Legislature
KOHP News
MDAC News
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Dear Sarah,
Welcome to Word of Mouth, the newsletter for all who care about improving the oral health of Maine's people.  To ensure that you continue to receive emails from us, add mdac@mcd.org your address book today. 
In this issue: Celebrating!
FHM cake 
In spite of bleak economic times there there is always occasion for celebration and thanks. The Fund for a Healthy Maine marked its tenth anniversary with an event at the State House, where all of the programs benefiting from these funds, including oral health, were represented. It was a chance to thank those who have worked so hard and for so long to make Maine one of the few states that have used tobacco settlement funds to prevent illness and promote health.
 
There are are also signs on the national level that oral health is being integrated into overall health - and into health reform discussions - and this is also cause for optimism. There were some victories at the legislature, and there will be another opportunity to work on improving MaineCare rates next year.
 
On the down side, anti-fluoridation activists are again at work in the state, and this will require a strategic and thoughtful response on the part of everyone committed to oral health, but the evidence is on the side of community water fluoridation as a safe, effective and inexpensive way to prevent caries and MDAC can help carry this message going forward.
National News
Health care reform discussions are in full swing in Washington.  There are encouraging signs that oral health is being recognized and considered as part of overall health. Burt Edelstein, of the Children's Dental Health Project, has summarized a bill being developed in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee (HELP). They plan to begin deliberation on June 18th. The bill contains a number of dental provisions that deal with pediatric insurance, prevention,epidemiologic surveillance, and workforce improvements. The full proposal is here.
 
New Guidelines for Perinatal and Infant Oral Health  have been issued by The American Academy for Pediatric Dentistry. The guidelines call for all pregnant women to receive counseling and oral healthcare during pregnancy, and also that infants receive an oral health risk assessment and oral care by their first birthday. These steps will contribute to optimal oral health for both mom and baby. The full press release and a link to the guidlines are here.
 
Healthy Gums and a Healthy Heart: The Perio-Cardio Connection. Newly released clinical recommendations encourage cardiologists to examine the mouth and periodontists to ask questions about heart health. A consensus paper on the relationship between heart disease and gum disease was recently published concurrently in the online versions of two leading publications, the American Journal of Cardiology (AJC) and the Journal of Periodontology (JOP). The press release and a link to the paper are here.


Maine News
There was an excellent interview with Dr Barbara Covey, a Maine General ED physician and chair of the Waterville Community Dental Clinic in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Sentinel. She eloquently describes the reasons why legislation such as LD 624 is so important. The full article is here.  
Community water fluoridation is back in the news, with an attempt to take fluoride out of the Portland water district communities.  The Portland Press Herald was quick to write an editorial decrying this effort and supporting the need to fluoridation which can be found here.
Legislative Wrap Up 
LD 624 Resolve, to Implement Certain recommendations of the Governor's Task Force on Expanding Access to Oral Health Care for Maine People. was MDAC's primary bill this past session. At the end of the day, after lots of work and many twists along the way, the bill was carried over to be reconsidered in the next legislative session. Given the extreme reluctance of the Appropriations Committee to to approve anything with any money attached, the fact that the bill remains alive for another day constitutes a victory of sorts.
LD 13 An Act To Expand the Diagnostic Functions of Independent Practice Dental Hygienists This bill expands the diagnostic functions of an independent practice dental hygienist by allowing an independent practice dental hygienist to perform x rays and to own x-ray equipment. Committee vote: ought not to pass.
LD 100 An Act To Improve Oral Health Care for Maine's Children This bill expands health screening in schools to include oral health screening. The bill requires oral health screening for students prior to entering kindergarten and for new students to a school district entering grades 1 to 6 and periodically thereafter. The bill coordinates oral health screening done under the new requirement with oral health screening done through a grant program with the Department of Health and Human Services. This Bill passed with an amendment.
LD 177 An Act To Modify the Maine Dental Education Loan Program This bill allows the Finance Authority of Maine to make more than 3 loans or loan repayment agreements annually under the Maine Dental Education Loan Program if funds permit. Passed.
LD 233 An Act To Include Independent Practice Dental Hygienists in MaineCare This bill provides for reimbursement under the MaineCare program to directly reimburse dental hygienists practicing independently. The bill was amended to specify hygienists working for FQHC's  and carried over to the next session because of the fiscal note.
LD 234 An Act To Expand Access to Oral Health Care This bill requires dental insurers and health insurers and health maintenance organizations that include coverage for dental services in their policies and contracts to provide coverage for dental services performed by an independent practice dental hygienist if those services would be covered under the policy or contract and those services are within the lawful scope of practice of the independent practice dental hygienist. This was passed with an amendment requiring the Bureau of Insurance to report back in 2013 on how the bill is working.
LD 1229 Resolve, Directing the Department of Human Services to Extend MaineCare Dental and Oral Health Services.
This bill was withdrawn in April.
Kids Oral Health Partnership News
 
If your organization or office would like to receive free training on promoting early oral health, and identifying and addressing oral health problems in children 0-5 yearskohp logo, contact Bonnie Vaughan at bvaughan@mcd.org. or go to the Resources for Providers page at www.kohp.org to sign up directly.
For notification of up coming training, contact Bonnie at the above email.
MDAC News
Next Quarterly Meeting: September 25, 2009
mdac logoin Augusta, at MCD  at 10:00 AM
 
 
RSVP djones@mcd.org  
 
Anyone who is interested in joining MDAC's Policy Workgroup, or the Hands On Team, devoted to making a differnce at the clinical level should contact sshed@mcd.org
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 If your organization has an event or an accomplishment you would like to share please send it on. If there are oral health issues and policies you would like to  to see addressed in this forum, let us know.
The mission of the Maine Dental Access Coalition is to advocate for and improve access to quality preventative  and comprehensive oral health care  for all Maine people.
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