MDCH Highlight Success Of Healthy Kids Dental Program

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Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) announced that the state's Healthy Kids Dental program served nearly 150,000 Michigan children in its first five years of operation.

"Ensuring our children receive proper health care is critical to maintaining a healthy Michigan," Granholm said. "This innovative partnership is helping us to provide quality dental care at affordable rates to some of Michigan's most vulnerable citizens."

The program - highlighted by the American Dental Association as a top five model for improving access to dental care for low-income populations - is a public-private partnership between MDCH, Delta Dental, and the Michigan Dental Association.

"We are proud to partner with dentists across the state to provide this critical coverage for children," said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. "As this program continues to grow, it plays an important role ensuring that Michigan's children are given access to quality dental care."

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University of Michigan researcher Dr. Stephen A. Eklund conducted a recent study that found dental visits were 50 percent higher for children enrolled in Healthy Kids Dental compared with children enrolled in the traditional Medicaid dental plan. The study included data from the program's first full year, 2001, through the end of 2005.

The Healthy Kids Dental program, which MDCH contracts with Delta Dental, provides dental benefits to Medicaid-eligible residents under the age of 21 who live in 59 Michigan counties. Services provided include oral exams, teeth cleaning, x-rays, and cavity fillings.

In a recent Scantron Corporation survey, nearly 99 percent of parents and caregivers said they were satisfied with the Healthy Kids Dental program and 92 percent said the program had improved their child's health.

"Healthy Kids Dental helps thousands of children establish good oral health habits that will last a lifetime and contribute to good overall health," said Thomas J. Fleszar, President and Chief Executive Officer of Delta Dental. "Delta Dental is proud to be partnering with the Michigan Department of Community Health, and we appreciate the Michigan Dental Association's ongoing support for this effective program."

Healthy Kids Dental currently serves 59 counties and more than 200,000 children across Michigan. The program originally began in May 2000 as a demonstration project serving 22 counties and has grown in five years to its current service range. Counties are selected based on lack of access to dental treatment, including an absence of community-based dental services for low-income children.

"We are pleased that the Healthy Kids Dental program has dramatically improved the oral health of 150,000 Michigan children," said Kris Nicholoff, assistant executive director for the Michigan Dental Association. "The members of the Michigan Dental Association are gratified to be a part of a program that establishes a dental home for children and leads to a pattern of regular dental care. We encourage further expansion of the program."

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