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Legislative Day Recap

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Today on January 28th, 2020 Virginia Health Catalyst hosted our annual Legislative Action Day, where constituents meet with their legislators to talk about the importance of oral health and advocate for an adult dental benefit in Medicaid. Thank you to all who attended and to all of our partners who shared this important day with their networks! We could not have done it without you.

Legislative days are my favorite way to see democracy in action. Catalyst partners and staff come together to advocate for comprehensive health care that includes oral health in Virginia. This year was the largest Legislative Action Day in Catalyst history. Over 60 people met with 70 legislators representing 108 Virginia counties and independent cities. I was struck by how attentive the Legislators and aids were during conversations. They were engaged, asked good questions, and were genuinely interested in hearing stories from their constituents regarding the need for better oral health coverage.

To this end, Catalyst’s top legislative priority is an adult dental benefit in Medicaid. You may have seen this article outlining the Virginia coverage gap in Virginia Mercury. In order for this needed coverage to be passed, we have submitted budget amendments in the Senate, patron Senator Barker, Item 313 #18s, and House, patron Delegate Sickles, Item 313 #7h. Catalyst has also partnered with the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute (HPI) to estimate the cost of an adult dental benefit to the state of Virginia. This report provides the most up-to-date cost estimate and includes cost savings for chronic disease care and reduced emergency department visits. Special thank you to Marko Vujicic, Chief Economist and Vice President of HPI, and his team for calculating these estimates.

Building on the momentum of Legislative Action Day, there is more work to be done to see an adult dental benefit come to fruition. While Catalyst is continuing our postcard campaign, which has sent over 400 postcards to legislators to date, we need partners to lean into our letter-writing campaign. If you have a story to tell and would like to share your first-hand experience of seeing a need for oral health coverage, please reach out to me, Chloe Van Zandt, at cvanzandt@vahealthcatalyst.org for assistance in sending a letter to your legislator.

Thank you again to all who joined us at the capital today and to our partners across the state who have continually supported us! View photos from the day here.