The Olympian Editorial Board
Some research has showed that treatment of gum disease in patients with diabetes can reduce the costs of their overall medical care. Similarly, treating a pregnant mother’s dental decay may reduce both a mother’s and a baby’s risk of developing complications and cavities later in life.
A bipartisan group of legislators, backed by the privately funded Washington Dental Service Foundation, wants to replicate for our state’s Medicaid patients what a United Concordia Dental study found for diabetes and pregnant women.
Senate Bill 5540, sponsored by Republican Sen. Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla, would invest $1.5 million of state dollars into a four-year partnership between the foundation and community groups to run the pilot dental program catering to low-income pregnant women and adults with diabetes.
The three-county pilot would be patterned after the successful Access to Baby and Child Dentistry program, or ABCD, which is a partnership between the state Health Care Authority, the University of Washington’s School of Dentistry, local dental societies, the foundation and community groups.
Thurston County is one of three sites identified for the pilot. State funds would be matched by $750,000 from the foundation, which in turn is financed by the Delta Dental insurer, says Diane Lowry Oakes, foundation president and CEO.
The Thurston County piece would be managed by CHOICE Regional Network, which already administers an ABCD program that enlists local dentists trained to handle the youngest patients. Two other potential sites are being identified.