On May 26, students from Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) flocked to the Massachusetts State House to speak with state senators about the proposed budget cuts to MassHealth adult dental benefits.
In cooperation with representatives from the Massachusetts Dental Society, Health Care For All, and the Oral Health Advocacy Taskforce, GSDM students were briefed on the key points they needed to communicate to the senators. They were then broken into small groups and given a list of offices to visit. In just two hours, the students visited every office in the Senate and had the opportunity to speak with numerous political analysts and one senator, Senator Thomas P. Kennedy. Although Senator Kennedy already opposed the budget cuts he graciously listened to the unique perspective the students provided on how these cuts would impact many patients at GSDM, thus negatively affecting their educational experience. Senator Kennedy also commented on how impressive it was to see dental students come down and speak on behalf of their patients.
Despite the support of Senator Kennedy and an overall valiant effort by oral health advocates, the Senate eliminated the amendment to protect MassHealth adult dental benefits on May 28. As of July 1, MassHealth will only cover preventative services for their 700,000 adult members which includes only cleanings, extractions, and emergency treatments. All restorative services will be eliminated.
“While the next few months will likely show a similar result to the dental coverage cuts seen in 2002, increasing awareness of the impact of dental health on systemic health becomes crucial at this time,” said Lauren Greco DMD 12. “It is imperative that we remain active in our political action committee (ADPAC) and emphasize the importance of reinstating the benefits in a timely matter. I would like to thank Dr. Henshaw and Dr. Calabrese for extending the opportunity to the students of GSDM to visit the State House and share in this informative experience.”