CMS Oral Health Initiative commits to increasing children’s access to care

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said June 25 that it plans to continue the Oral Health Initiative to help states ensure that children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program have access to dental and oral health services.

In a Medicaid Informational Bulletin posted on the agency’s website, CMS said that as of September 2018, 48% of children enrolled in Medicaid received a preventive dental service compared to 23% in September 2000. CMS said the Oral Health Initiative’s new goal is to have at least 52% of enrollees receive these dental services — which include exams, fluoride treatments, sealants and more — by 2022.

The Oral Health Initiative, which launched in 2010, helps states reach their goals by:

• Supporting state oral health action plans.
• Hosting webinars on issues related to oral health access, including community partnerships and treatment modalities.
• Hosting learning collaboratives to help states design dental performance improvement
projects in managed care delivery systems.
• Developing the Think Teeth campaign.
• Providing technical support through the Innovation Accelerator Program and for reporting key oral health data.
• Engaging with targeted states.

"Oral health is important and consequential to the overall health of Medicaid-enrolled children,” the report concluded. “CMS looks forward to continuing to work with states to improve children’s access to needed oral health care. We encourage states to participate in the upcoming oral health learning collaborative, and we are ready to provide technical assistance to help states work toward their goals.”

To read the CMS Medicaid Informational Bulletin in full, visit