In 1996 when the House Chair of the Massachusetts Joint Legislative Committee on Health Care was attempting to resolve the uncompensated care issues in the state, he kept hearing that access to dental care was a problem. After the uncompensated care concerns were resolved, he inquired into the extent of the oral health problem, and he was surprised to learn of its severity. A draft bill to improve access to dental care was presented at a meeting of dental stakeholders in March, 1997 followed by a public hearing in April. The extent of this neglected epidemic was acknowledged by a variety of agencies, organizations, and institutions. They included or represented consumer and legal service advocates, school nurses, community health centers, dental/dental hygiene schools, dental insurance companies, the homeless, Medicaid recipients, persons with HIV/AIDS, nursing home residents and local health departments.
After an extensive educational effort of the state legislature by many different individuals and groups, a law was passed in 1997 establishing a Special Legislative Commission on Oral Health to study the oral health status, effective community prevention programs and access to dental services for residents of Massachusetts. The Commission collected information and deliberated for a little over one year. The final report and its recommendations were released in early 2000. The legislative action resulted in a road map for better oral health in Massachusetts.
Learning Objectives: The learner will understand the importance of diversity in networking. The learner will appreciate the significance of data to define the oral health problem. The learner will appreciate the importance of networking to influence oral health policy and legislation
Keywords: Networking, Legislative
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA