WDA President Dr. Eugene Shoemaker released a statement in response to an October 2011 letter to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services from the director of the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign. The letter urges the state – which received a “C” in the Pew Center’s recent annual report card on dental health policies for children – to do more to reduce barriers to oral health care faced by low-income children in the Badger State.
“This letter supports what dentists have been saying for years – that our state can and must do a better job of ensuring its low-income youngsters get the dental care necessary to lead healthy lives. The letter sadly points out that nearly 70 percent of Wisconsin’s Medicaid-enrolled children did not see a dentist in 2009, which is lower than the rate nationally and in all four neighboring states. It is shortsighted and unacceptable for a state like Wisconsin to allow its youth to go without dental care.
“We appreciate the Pew Center’s support of WDA’s Healthy Choices proposal to help reduce barriers to oral health care for our state’s most vulnerable residents. The letter’s recommendations – making sure Medicaid reimbursement rates actually cover the cost of care and expanding sealant programs in schools – are excellent, viable and would net positive results for our state and our kids long-term. Wisconsin’s leaders should take heed.
“Policymakers and dentists have an opportunity to work together to improve the care for Wisconsin’s children, and the WDA’s 3,000 member dentists are committed to this effort. We look forward to working with state legislators, Gov. Scott Walker, the Department of Health Services and children’s health advocates to implement the recommendations that we all agree will help improve children’s oral health. Working together, we can make Wisconsin a terrific – and healthy – place to grow up.”