The Boston City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of Massachusetts House and Senate bills to expand access to oral health for those in need. The issue speaks loudly to Jamaica Plain's City Councilor Matt O'Malley who championed the bills.
"The city of Boston has a dental access problem. Third-grade children in Boston’s Suffolk County suffer unmet dental needs at more than twice the rate of the surrounding suburban areas, and more than 530,000 people in Massachusetts live in areas with a shortage of dentists," said O'Malley through a press release. "Boston residents deserve better, and these midlevel providers can help bring cost-effective dental care to children, seniors and people with disabilities currently going without it."
The Boston City Council resolution supported House Bill 2474 and Senate Bill 1169.
The city council resolution offered several statistics that provides evidence as to the need for better dental care:
- According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, in 2000, 1.1 million emergency room visits related to dental pain occurred in the US; by 2012, this number had increased to 2.18 million, costing emergency rooms lacking dentists on staff more than $1.6 billion in state and federal reimbursements.
- In 2014, 47 percent of young people aged 1-21 who were enrolled in MassHealth, about 290,000 individuals, did not see a dentist.
- 30 percent of adults with disabilities in Massachusetts were missing six or more teeth in 2014, compared to 10 percent of those without disabilities.
- In 2014, low-income seniors were seven times more likely to have lost all of their teeth than seniors with household incomes exceeding $75,000.
- African-American seniors were twice as likely as white counterparts to have lost all of their teeth.
"We are proud to stand with the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Union of Minority Neighborhoods and more than 40 other endorsing organizations who support this cost-effective solution to deliver safe and effective oral health care to every person in the Commonwealth. It is time we make affordable dental care accessible for all people who need it. We respectfully urge the legislature to pass House Bill 2474 and Senate Bill 1169.”