Arcora Foundation looks for funding to scale up DentistLink program, focused on Apple Health patients

Arcora Foundation, the foundation of Delta Dental of Washington, is hoping to secure funding in the state’s supplemental operating budget this year to expand outreach to connect lower-income patients to oral health care.  

The House’s supplemental operating budget (HB 2325) includes $250,000 in general funds for FY2021 to “develop a public-private partnership with a state-based oral health foundation to connect Medicaid patients to dental services and reduce barriers to accessing care.” The funding allocation requires a progress report on the partnership to be submitted to the legislature by June 30, 2021.

 

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If included in the final budget, Arcora hopes the $250,000 will be used to scale up their DentistLink program. 

Arcora launched DentistLink in 2017 with the goal of helping individuals connect with dental providers and overcome barriers to accessing care. Currently only about 22% of Apple Health adults are accessing dental care. Through DentistLink, referral specialists provide support via text, online, and over the phone to users seeking access to care. They also help connect people to community resources including childcare and transportation. The service is offered to anyone, regardless of their insurance coverage, but it is primarily used by Medicaid-enrollees or those who are uninsured.  

Currently, Arcora provides all of the funding for this free service, but the Foundation is hoping to expand the program into a private-public partnership.

“Just like with the Access to Baby & Child Dentistry program, DentistLink works because of partnerships with community-based organizations, health care systems, and dental offices,” said Alison Mondi, Policy Director at Arcora Foundation. “We started DentistLink in 2017 as a pilot and have served more than 33,000 people seeking essential dental care.  DentistLink is now ready to be scaled up through public and private partnerships so even more people can receive the care they need to be healthy.”

 Thousands of people should not have to wait in line, many overnight and in pain, to get dental care like they did a few weeks ago at the Seattle King County dental clinic at Seattle Center. Through innovation and collaboration we can and must do better. That’s why we are so excited about the proviso in the House budget.”

The Senate’s supplemental operating budget (SB 6168), which passed off the Senate floor last week, does not include any funding for this public-private partnership. 

SB 6168 also passed off the House floor last week, after representatives approved a striker amendment replacing the bill’s language with the language from the House budget bill. Budget negotiators will now work out a compromise to be approved by both chambers.