With a focus on improving access to oral health care by increasing utilization of services, reducing disparities and promoting health equity in Massachusetts, the Coalition is engaged in a variety of initiatives inspired and powered by the collective diversity and strengths of our members and partners.
BOHMAC, in partnership with other advocacy organizations including the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, Massachusetts Health Council, Oral Health Advocacy Task Force and the Massachusetts Public Health Association, is committed to educating policymakers on a range of critical issues affecting prevention and access to comprehensive oral health care. While the policy and legislative issues are ever-changing, we embrace the positive changes promoted by such legislative victories as the Massachusetts Prevention Trust Fund and the federal Affordable Health Care Act (ACA). Current issues we are working on include:
- Supporting the Department of Public Health Office of Oral Health by advocating to maintain and, if possible, increasing funding for the State Budget Line item 4512-0500
- Supporting the restoration of adult dental benefits for all Massachusetts MassHealth beneficiaries
- Promoting policy change and funding to maintain and improve oral health surveillance systems
- Supporting the expansion of the Massachusetts Health Care Workforce Council to include community health workers and oral health dental professionals
- Advocating to increase the number of Massachusetts residents with access to fluoridated community water supplies; Identify additional financial resources for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Oral Health, to support or assist communities in establishing community water fluoridation and/or maintaining fluoridation infrastructures
As part of its evolving priorities, BOHMAC will continue its work addressing barriers and identifying opportunities in the promotion of Public Health Dental Hygienists. BOHMAC’s work also includes addressing ways to strengthen partnerships between oral health providers and community health workers, through the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers, as an important approach to reaching those most vulnerable to oral diseases.
Community Water Fluoridation (CWF)
BOHMAC works with communities throughout the Commonwealth to promote and protect community water fluoridation. We work with communities discussing fluoridation on all levels: town/city council meetings, local group discussions, ballot measures, etc. BOHMAC is here to provide support for CWF through a variety of methods, including the organization of educational panels, group discussions, and community champion speaker trainings.
BOHMAC has also received a grant from Health Resources in Action (HRiA) to support local efforts to promote better oral health through oral health education and access to community water fluoridation. As part of this effort, BOHMAC and HRiA are collaborating on working with communities and their local public health leaders to understand the needs of the community and how to best improve its oral health prevention efforts.
Initially convened by Tobacco Free Massachusetts, BOHMAC and the Oral Health Advocacy Task Force (OHAT) are co-chairing an ad-hoc working group committed to exploring the barriers which inhibit the participation of Oral Health professionals in accessing tobacco cessation for their patients. Other members of the planning group include the Massachusetts Dental Society, the Forsyth Institute, John Snow Inc., UMass Medical Center and the DentaQuest Foundation. Work on this initiative will include a stakeholder roundtable in spring 2013 to better understand the obstacles and identify next steps.
The power of dialogue and collaboration lies not only in the connections made between participants but in the change that comes as a result. This Initiative will promote local, regional, and statewide collaboration between Massachusetts’ medical and oral health professionals in order to promote optimal oral health across the lifespan. Central to this will be identifying ways healthcare providers can work together to address the growing understanding of the connection between oral health and chronic diseases. Through a series of roundtable discussions and assessments, it is our hope that new alliances will be formed that result in increased communication between medical and dental health care providers and better prevention and treatment in this era of cost sensitivity. BOHMAC is working closely with the Massachusetts Medical Society and other partners on this initiative.
Many groups in Massachusetts collect oral health data – school-based programs, community health centers, universities, health departments, Head Start agencies, and others. Sharing this data can strengthen oral health efforts and improve the understanding oral health status and needs. In 2013, BOHMAC’s work in this area will include encouraging and supporting improvement of surveillance and data-sharing systems among participating organizations and creating strategies to prioritize needed improvements in data collection systems. Members from Boston University’s School of Dentistry, Children’s HealthWatch, the Boston Public Health Commission, the Department of Public Health and Partnership for A Healthier Community are playing key roles in this effort.