New York University: NYU Dentistry to Host Event on Disability and Health Policy—April 5

NYU College of Dentistry will host its second AHEAD symposium—Achieving Health Equity through Access for All with Disabilities—focused on changes in policy and practice. The event will take place virtually on Tuesday, April 5, 2022 from 9 am to noon EDT, and will bring together experts in the areas of health care advocacy, access, and funding at the state and federal levels for people with disabilities.

COVID-19 created new access issues in health care, but people with disabilities have faced significant barriers to receiving care long before the pandemic. To see a dentist, people with disabilities may need to find a practice with an accessible office and a provider who is willing and prepared to see patients with disabilities. Payment can also be a barrier: while more than 10 million people with disabilities are eligible for Medicaid, many dentists do not accept it due to low reimbursement rates.

“Ensuring people with disabilities have access to compassionate, comprehensive oral health care is an important health equity goal, and we need policymakers and the oral health community at the table for these conversations,” said Charles N. Bertolami, DDS, DMedSc, the Herman Robert Fox Dean of NYU College of Dentistry. “We’re pleased to reconvene for our second AHEAD symposium to discuss how to both increase access for this patient population and prepare the next generation of dentists to care for them.”

The event’s keynote speakers are:

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R-Louisiana). Cassidy has championed expanding resources for people with disabilities and increasing access to oral health care throughout his career. He has sponsored legislation including bipartisan bills on retaining Social Security benefits for people with disabilities who work and targeting federal funds to provide dental care to vulnerable populations.

Natalia Chalmers, DDS, PhD, Chief Dental Officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Chalmers—a pediatric dentist, oral health policy expert, and public health advocate—was named CMS’ first-ever Chief Dental Officer in 2021 and guides CMS in advancing oral health in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Marketplace, and Medicare.

In addition, panel discussions will address reimbursement policies for dental care, particularly in New York State, as well as the need for a universal curriculum to prepare future dentists with the skills required to provide oral health care for people with disabilities across the lifespan.

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