Re: “Preserve dental benefits for our most vulnerable citizens” [Aug. 3, Opinion]:
Dr. Donald Chi expertly explains why cutting safety-net programs like Medicaid adult dental care would be shortsighted and could lead to higher health-care costs, with increased ER visits and worsening dental problems.
Olympia lawmakers have difficult decisions ahead. But state budget cuts to Medicaid adult dental care would further harm our neighbors who are low-income, Black, Indigenous and people of color and are most impacted by the dual health and economic crises brought on by COVID-19 and systemic injustice. It is these community members who are most likely to be essential front-line workers, facing lost wages, or dealing with health effects of the virus itself.
The pandemic has exposed cracks in our health-care system and inequities that disproportionately impact communities of color and lower-income populations. Seattle Housing Authority provides affordable housing to more than 37,000 low-income people, approximately 85% of whom receive Medicaid benefits, including an estimated 20,000 adults who may need access to adult dental care. We need programs like Medicaid adult dental care as we move toward economic recovery.
Let’s not repeat past mistakes by reducing access to oral health care when people need it most. Providing dental coverage is good health policy and the right thing to do.
Andrew Lofton, executive director, Seattle Housing Authority