Pediatric Dental Health Care Utilization Among AHCCCS Recipients: Closing the Gap

Project: Research project

Project Details


Pediatric Dental Health Care Utilization Among AHCCCS Recipients: Closing the Gap Pediatric Dental Health Care Utilization Among AHCCCS Recipients: Closing the Gap One in three Arizona children are recipients of our state Medicaid program, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). The children receive coverage for dental services through AHCCCS, pediatric usage rates remains low, with fewer than half regularly visiting a dentist. This is of particular concern for low-income and vulnerable children who are often navigating a variety of social determinants of health and access to care issues. Lack of regular and preventative dental health services puts children at significantly higher risk for serious dental illness such as tooth decay and dental caries, all of which can have dangerous health implications and wide ranging social and economic impact. Tooth decay is the leading cause of missed school days among all children in Arizona and a 3rd graders in our state living in poverty is almost twice as likely to suffer from tooth decay compared to their higher resourced counterparts. From the provider perspective, fewer than 1 in 6 Arizona dentists treat a meaningful number of children covered by AHCCCS. In an effort to close this gap and better understand the provider landscape, accessibility to dental care for AHCCCS families and the role of other social determinants of health, the Childrens Action Alliance (CAA) seeks to partner with researchers from the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University (ASU-CHS), led by Professor Swapna Reddy, to support a concerted effort with the following objectives: Goal #1 (Fall 2019) Conduct a detailed literature and policy review to understand pediatric dental usage rates among Medicaid recipients across the United States and best practices to increase utilization from other states. Goal #2 (Fall 2019/Spring 2020) Conduct an independent review of AHCCCS health plans compliance to existing network standards (ACOM policies 417 and 436) by conducting a statistically meaningful secret shopper survey. Goal #3 (Fall 2019/Spring 2020) Provide CAA with preliminary results, when available and if reliable, in user-friendly formats such as fact sheets or one to two-page summaries that can be edited and used under the CAA name. Goal #4 (Spring 2020) Author a policy brief summarizing the survey results, existing literature and research on the topic, and other available national and state-level oral health data outlining policy recommendations to improve childrens utilization of dental health benefit in Medicaid in Arizona. Goal #5 (Spring 2020) Provide media support to create awareness of the issue and the results of the study.
Effective start/end date9/2/195/31/20


  • Children's Action Alliance: $24,998.00


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