AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire Recognizes ‘Oral Health Champions’

Medicaid Health Plan Salutes Granite State Dental Providers Who Joined Its Network in its First Months Covering Adult Dental Care

June 29, 2020 - Manchester, N.H.

In recognition of Oral Health Month in June, AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire is recognizing the New Hampshire dental providers who joined the health plan’s network and served its members in the first six months of its adult dental benefit as “Oral Health Champions” — providers who share AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire’s commitment to person-centered care and appreciate the importance of quality, consistent dental care to one’s overall health. AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire is a managed care organization serving New Hampshire Medicaid enrollees and part of the AmeriHealth Caritas Family of Companies.

The adult dental benefit is based on research that demonstrates a strong connection between oral health and physical health, and reflects AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire’s person-centered approach to care. Since the benefit’s launch, hundreds of AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire adult members have received dental care through this program, with more than a thousand services provided.

AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire, which began serving the state in September 2019, was the Granite State’s first Medicaid health plan to cover preventive, diagnostic, and basic restorative and periodontal care for its adult members. While these services were already covered for children enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, adult Medicaid enrollees previously could only receive coverage for emergency tooth extractions.

"We are so grateful to the dentists who provide care to our members. When we pledged to bring dental care to adults who are enrolled in the Medicaid program, we knew that our success would depend on building a robust network of dental providers," said AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire Plan President Scott Westover. "Our deep commitment to whole-person care is reflected in our pursuit to provide adult dental care and our supporting our members along their health care journey. The dentists in our network have championed this program by treating AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire members, and I am confident about the positive, long term benefits of those visits for the people we serve."

Poor oral health can negatively impact a person’s overall health and wellness. Research suggests that tooth decay and poor dental hygiene can be linked to diabetes, pancreatic cancer, and heart disease. In very rare cases, poor dental health can be deadly. In addition, a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found $2.7 billion in dental‐related hospital emergency department visits in the U.S. over a three‐year period, with 30 percent of the visits coming from adults enrolled in Medicaid.

AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire’s adult dental coverage aims to positively impact the overall health of individuals and help reduce dental-related emergency room visits by allowing members to access preventive care and treat problems before they become severe.

“Kudos to the team at AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire for their vision and commitment to the development and addition of a value-added dental benefit to their managed care portfolio,” said New Hampshire Oral Health Coalition Director Gail T. Brown. “Dental decay is the #1 chronic disease in children across the nation. For adults, decay, gum infection, and broken teeth contribute to poor outcomes in diabetes, cardiac disease, lung health, and many other chronic health conditions. Establishing good oral health helps to improve overall health. If you don’t manage dental disease, you cannot manage health care or its costs.

“The New Hampshire Oral Health Coalition would like to both commend and thank the New Hampshire dentists that stepped forward to partner with AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire in this wonderful, in-state one of a kind program that serves the oral and overall health interests of New Hampshire residents that are beneficiaries within our state Medicaid program.”

1AmeriHealth Caritas Aims to Reduce Barriers to Oral Health Care for Individuals with Disabilities. AmeriHealth Caritas press release, 11 April 2019. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190411005861/en/AmeriHealth-Caritas-Aims-Reduce-Barriers-Oral-Health

2Allareddy, V; Rampa, S; Lee, MK; Nalliah, RP. Hospital-based emergency department visits involving dental conditions: profile and predictors of poor outcomes and resource utilization. Journal of the American Dental Association. Apr 2014; 145(4):331-337. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24686965

3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Water, Sanitation, & Environmentally-related Hygiene, Hygiene-related Diseases. Accessed: June 19, 2020. http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/disease/dental_caries.html