Clean Teeth = Better Health: Rural Dental Expansion
Expanding Health Care Coverage
April 5, 2012
Successful implementation of Federal health reform will require expanded primary care access for the estimated 1.2 million New Yorkers who will gain health insurance coverage and for the 1.4 million who will likely remain uninsured.
Community health centers—ranging from a storefront free clinic to sophisticated operations running facilities across a multi-county region—are on the front lines of primary care. But many community health centers struggle with low margins, limited funding, and growing demand. When health reform is fully implemented, community health centers are expected to double capacity to serve 3 million New Yorkers.
NYHealth issued a Request for Proposals and awarded 10 grants to help community health centers in four medically underserved regions—Long Island, Western New York, Central New York, and the Finger Lakes—take practical steps to build capacity to better meet the growing need for primary care services.
The Family Health Network (FHN) operates 10 sites, providing important access to medical and dental services for vulnerable individuals and families in Cortland and Cayuga counties and the five neighboring counties. In Cayuga County, the closest dental practice serving the uninsured with a sliding scale payment system is more than 30 miles away, and no dentist in the county is accepting new Medicaid patients. The county has the highest rate of children with cavities in the region, with 72% percent of third-graders reporting at least one cavity. FHN has already completed construction of three dental rooms in a health new clinic and acquired needed dental equipment for the site. With a grant from NYHealth, FHN can hire a dentist, dental hygienist, and dental assistant at the new health clinic, and open its doors to this new dental practice in Moravia, in southern Cayuga County.