CHICAGO, Feb. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- For every child in America who does not have medical insurance there are 2.6 children who do not have dental insurance. According to the National Health Interview Survey (1995), 36 percent of U.S. children-about 27 million-have no dental coverage. Lisa B. Potter, RDH, president of the American Dental Hygienists' Association, says February is National Children's Dental Health Month, a great time to focus on the nation's "poorest" children who suffer from serious oral health diseases and to encourage "low-income" parents of uninsured children to call 1-877-Kids-Now for enrollment information. The Insure Kids Now national toll-free telephone number automatically routes calls based on the state from which the call is placed and directs it to that state's agency responsible for enrolling children in Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the largest outreach program aimed at the "working poor" since Medicaid. CHIP's mission is to insure some 20 million children throughout the United States. According to ADHA's Potter, National Children's Dental Health Month offers an excellent vehicle for reminding parents that the key to preventing tooth decay is straightforward: "Brush after every meal or at least three times a day, floss daily and schedule regular visits to your oral health care provider." CHIP allocates $24 billion in federal funds over its first five years to enable states to find, enroll and insure eligible children. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the states and U.S. territories estimate that they will enroll 2.6 million children by September 2000. Almost two million children were enrolled, based on state-by-state reported data as of September 30, 1999. This total is without the inclusion of data from Hawaii, Washington and Wyoming, which did not have their plans operational during the past fiscal year. According to Potter, "It is particularly gratifying to see the success of CHIP. ADHA has supported the initiative since its inception, working with the Clinton administration and state legislatures to implement the program and to help promote the toll-free number to potential enrollees." Potter adds that although there still are barriers preventing Medicaid patients from receiving care, Insure Kids Now offers a beginning point for those children who are in dire need of oral care. ADHA is the largest national organization representing the professional interests of the more than 100,000 licensed dental hygienists across the country. Dental hygienists are preventive oral health professionals, licensed in dental hygiene, who provide educational, clinical and therapeutic services that support total health through the promotion of optimal oral health. For more information, visit the ADHA Web site at www.adha.org .
SOURCE American Dental Hygienists' Association