THE CT DENTAL HEALTH PARTNERSHIP CONTINUES TO INNOVATE TO BETTER SERVE HUSKY HEALTH MEMBERS
FARMINGTON, CONNECTICUT: Connecticut fares well when it comes to providing dental care for its approximately 1 million residents with Medicaid (HUSKY Health) benefits. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)1, Connecticut has the 3rd highest rate of preventative dental services for its Medicaid (HUSKY Health) members under the age of 20 nationally. And, Connecticut is one of 29 states with “extensive” Medicaid dental coverage for adults (NASHP) 2
But the COVID-19 pandemic time periods in 2020 and 2021 took a toll on oral health in the state, with many opting or unable to visit the dentist. While in many cases, dental visits have rebounded since the height of the pandemic, they have not yet reached pre-pandemic levels and there are still many adults and children who have access to HUSKY Health (Medicaid) dental benefits, but aren’t using them.
In the pre-pandemic times, (7/18 – 6/19) 51% of those continuously enrolled in HUSKY Health had used some form of dental services and 72% of those going to the dentist were children. At the heart of the pandemic (3/20-3/21) utilization dropped to 37% and just 52% seeing a dentist were children. More recently, (7/21-6/22) Connecticut saw a rebound of people returning to the dentist. 43% of those continuously enrolled in HUSKY Health had used some form of dental services and 63% of those returning to the dentist were children.
Closing the Gaps
In order to close the gaps as pandemic impacts continue, the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership [The Partnership] is reorganizing its resources with the goals of better meeting HUSKY Health Members where they are and helping members maximize their benefits toward improving their oral health.
In addition to its responsive, local member service call center, there are now two dedicated statewide HUSKY dental outreach teams in the state: 1) Oral Health Community Engagement Specialists; and 2) Oral Health Navigators and a series of public awareness strategies being deployed. Many on these teams are bilingual and all are committed to service delivery that meets Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) standards.
The Oral Health Navigation and Community Engagement Teams are Now Strategically Positioned
Here are what some members on the team are doing:
Oral Health Community Engagement Specialists
Meeting members where they are and forging community-based partnerships to promote oral health and the HUSKY Health dental benefit are core objectives of a team of state certified Community Health Workers known as Community Engagement Specialists. These individuals cover 4 regions throughout the state, connecting with community-based organizations, health related agencies and associations, Women Infants and Children (WIC) centers, OB-GYN and Pediatric Medical offices, Head Start programs, libraries, community colleges, family centers and more. Oral health training, distribution of oral health information and dental kits, and guidance is available to HUSKY Health members and organizations that serve members.
Oral Health Navigators
Connecticut is the first state to deploy an Oral Health Navigation model for its Medicaid (HUSKY Health) programs through the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership. The team is now comprised of 5 fulltime dedicated Oral Health Navigators who are here to help HUSKY Health members “navigate” what can be a complex system – from finding a dentist, to getting language or transportation assistance if needed, to helping clients overcome anxiety or phobias about going to the dentist, and in providing care coordination for those with special needs and chronic diseases that impact and influence one’s oral health status.
Along with its Member Service Center, Community Engagement Specialists and Oral Health Navigators, The Partnership is committed to increasing the communications to members to close these gaps, increase members’ preventative oral healthcare, increase visits to the dentist and as a result, improve overall health and quality of life.
Health Equity and Communications
The Health Equity Officer is positioned to ensure that the organization is continually striving to meet its mission: to enable all HUSKY Health members to achieve and maintain good oral health. The Connecticut Dental Health Partnership works to ensure all members have equitable access to oral health services. The Health Equity Officer has developed and is implementing the organization’s Health Equity Plan and is instrumental in communications that meet CLAS and ADA standards for optimal accessibility.
The Communications Team keeps the content fresh on the CT Dental Health Partnership website, www.ctdhp.org along with its Facebook and Twitter and Instagram pages. The website also offers an online search tool to help members find a dentist. HUSKY Health members also receive regular newsletters if they have provided an active email address. Beginning in January 2022, The Partnership has launched outdoor advertising campaigns in key markets to raise awareness.
If you know of any HUSKY Health member who needs to find a dentist, make an appointment, or learn more about their benefits, have them visit www.ctdhp.org or call 855-CT-DENTAL (855-283-3682). Translation and transportation services available. Hearing impaired clients, please dial 711 for Relay Connecticut assistance.
Provider Network and Community Partners
Any dentist or dental practices interested in joining the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership Network of providers, please contact Michael Massarelli at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to have you as part of our network!
If you work for a Community Agency and are interested in partnering with us, visit our website for more information. Why Partner With Us – HUSKY Dental (ctdhp.org)
Pediatricians, family and OB-GYN practices, chronic disease programs and other health care organizations are also encouraged to partner with us toward improving your patients’ oral health. Read more here: Medical Providers – Medical/Dental Integration – HUSKY Dental (ctdhp.org)
The Connecticut Dental Health Partnership is the dental plan for HUSKY Health and now, Covered CT and is administered by BeneCare Dental Plans under a contract with the Connecticut Department of Social Services. We care about your dental health. Visit us at www.ctdhp.org . Member questions can be directed to call: 855-CT-DENTAL.
CONTACT: Sandra Rodriguez, Communications Manager, The Connecticut Dental Health Partnership – Sandra.email@example.com