March 2021 Newsletter
Xenophobia and Disease in the United States

In light of the horrific attacks in Georgia and among Asian communities across the country, we remember that this is not the first time America has linked a disease to race or ethnicity – and seen the social, political, and health-related consequences across society. This brief NPR segment, highlighting the spike in hate directed towards Asian Americans because of COVID-19, dives a bit deeper into the history of associating disease and race.
Federal Policy Update

It is easy to get caught up in the legislative priorities at the state level, but there is a lot of momentum in oral health-related policies at the federal level as well. Check out some exciting news below:
Oral Health for Moms Act: This bill, introduced by Senators Stabenow (D-MI), Cardin (D-MD), and Booker (D-NJ), would require Medicaid and CHIP to cover dental health care for pregnant and postpartum people. Although Virginia Medicaid has a dental benefit for pregnant members, this is currently an optional benefit for states, so this bill would address oral health disparities among pregnant people and families nationwide.  
APHA Policy Statement to Improve Dental Care for Pregnant People: The American Public Health Association updated its policy statement regarding strategies to improve access to dental care for pregnant people, including interprofessional education, integration of oral health into prenatal visits, and encouraging the drinking of fluoridated water. APHA policy statements can help underline the importance of adopting and researching strategies like these in Virginia.
Medicare Dental Benefit Act of 2021 (S.97/H.R.502)(text): Introduced early this year by Senator Cardin (D-MD) and Representative Barragan (D-CA), this bill would expand dental coverage for seniors and people with disabilities covered under Medicare. Currently, these services are excluded from Medicare coverage, leaving over 1.3 million Virginians without care. 
SNAP Benefits Expansion in Virginia

Virginia legislators voted to expand its use of the federally-funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to an estimated 25,000 more families in Virginia. The additional $100 million will open the eligibility of SNAP benefits from 130% of the federal poverty threshold to 200%, increasing the eligible income for a family of three from $28,236 to $44,000. The economic impact of COVID on many of Virginia’s families is devastating, so this increase in SNAP benefits may help the individuals and families you serve in your communities! Learn more here.
Adult Dental Benefit in Medicaid Update

Do you work at a dental safety-net clinic? We hope you’ll join the next webinar on March 30, 12:00 pm -1:00 pm geared specifically for safety-net clinics who are interested in learning more about the adult dental benefit. You’ll hear from DentaQuest and two of Virginia’s dental safety net clinics about how to prepare for the upcoming benefit. Register for the webinar here! Check out Catalyst’s adult dental benefit webpage for other resources and opportunities.
Catalyst is Hiring!

We are thrilled to expand our team for the right experienced Program Manager to lead the data initiatives of our growing portfolio of collaborative, health-saving programs. With a focus on data analytics and integration, this full-time, grant-funded position will have the opportunity to support Catalyst programs and partners in new ways. Learn more here and apply by March 30!
Additional Resources

Using 2019 the American Community Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, nationally collected data sources, the Urban Institute and Virginia Health Care Foundation have released the 2021 Profile of Virginia’s Uninsured. Check out some of the key takeaways: 
  • The number of uninsured nonelderly Virginians decreased from 2018 to 2019 with the expansion of Medicaid eligibility. 
  • Those that are uninsured were much more likely to have unmet health needs and less likely to receive preventive services than Virginians with insurance. 
  • Over 80% of uninsured Virginians lived in families with at least one full or part-time worker. 
  • Hispanic Virginians were more likely to be uninsured than other races/ethnicities. 
Funding opportunity: Oral Health Integration for Families

You may have heard of the HRSA-funded national Networks for Oral Health Integration (NOHI) program. Virginia is part of the eastern cohort, along with New York, DC, and Maryland, as part of the Transforming Oral Health for Families (TOHF) project. Virginia Health Catalyst is part of the Virginia team in the TOHF project, and accepting applications from FQHCs with dental in Virginia to participate in an 18-month learning collaborative with the goal of improving the oral health of young children through interprofessional training and effective care coordination models. Participating health centers receive a stipend of $25,000 to offset project-related costs. Learn more about the project, and complete an application by March 31
National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month, and nutrition plays an important role in oral health. Sugary foods and drinks promote tooth decay, so drinking water or brushing your teeth after eating these will help keep sugar from sticking to your teeth. The vitamins and minerals we need for a well-balanced diet will not only help your physical health, but also keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy. Learn more and get involved here and here.
Register for the FREE Special Needs Dentistry – You Can Do It! Trainings

In partnership with the VDH, Catalyst is excited to offer a free five-part webinar series for dentists and dental hygienists on special needs dentistry. The series provides the dental community with the tools and knowledge to treat patients with special health care needs and covers topics like treatment planning, the latest clinical information and recommendations, and trends in special care dentistry. Attendees can receive 10 CE credits for the series, learn more here and register today! The next cohort begins on April 15th.