What They’re Watching: Siman Qaasim

Siman Qaasim is the President and CEO at Children’s Action Alliance.  In this pre-COVID edition of ‘What They’re Watching,” Qaasim discusses oral health, delivery system transformation, increasing public benefits, and legislative strategy toward health care investment.


Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.


I’ve been been spending a lot of time thinking about the oral health status of children and how we can improve the delivery care system. Last year we had a bill to pass midlevel providers. I think there are some network issues. There some issues with health care plans in terms of really ensuring that there is utilization among children and for adults as well. How can we increase benefits in the Medicaid space and in the Medicare space? Most people don’t know it’s the number one reason for missed school days, oral disease. It’s also the number one chronic disease suffered by children. I think it’s sort of a silent epidemic in kinds but also for adults. Low income adults also have no access. Affording dental care is just completely out of reach.

We were working on this session a bill for adult pregnant women in Medicaid for a comprehensive benefit. That would be an incremental step, I wouldn’t consider that a system disruptor. I think we have been trying to pool together stakeholders and experts across the state to really start pulling data and thinking about what we want to advocate for over the next couple of sessions. I’ve heard this term said at the capitol all the time and I wish that more of us lived by it, which is, “don’t step over a dollar to save a dime.” I think sometimes, we look at these investments in health care – like $178,000 for oral health adult benefit for pregnant women, or a $1.6 million to keep KidsCare open for 35,000 children – let’s not step over a dollar to save a dime right now. Really looking at health and those expenditures as investments and cost savings.”