Oral Health Kansas Advocacy • Public Awareness Education

Mouth Matters

OHK and the Bureau of Oral Health developed the State Oral Health Plan which debuted November 7, 2014.

State Oral Health Plan

Public Policy Priorities

Oral Health Kansas’ Advocacy Committee develops the organization’s Public Policy Priorities annually. The Advocacy Committee is made up of Board and non-Board members. The Advocacy Committee meets weekly during the legislative session and assists staff in forming advocacy strategies. Once identified, the Board of Directors ratifies the Public Policy Priorities, usually in December each year, in advance of the legislative session’s opening in January. This document guides OHK’s lobbying efforts and assists the organization in setting staffing priorities during the busy legislative session.

The priorities reflect the fact that Oral Health Kansas is the statewide advocacy organization dedicated to promoting the importance of lifelong dental health by shaping policy and educating the public so Kansans know that all mouths matter. The priority areas are intentionally broad and far-reaching, and are intended to allow staff and Advocacy Committee members to work on a variety of topics within the broad goals, depending on what the legislative session holds. The priorities are also written to be as inclusive of our valued partners as possible. For some priorities, it is appropriate for Oral Health Kansas to lead the lobbying effort. On others, OHK takes a partnership position and works closely with another lead organization.

  • Increase Access
  • Increase Financial Capacity
  • Improve Oral Health
Increase Access to Providers
Ensure that all Kansans have access to comprehensive oral health care. Address policies and practices that would restrict or impact the ability of citizens to access oral health care.
Advocate for policies to grow the reach of Extended Care Permit hygienists into additional underserved communities.

In 2003, the Kansas Legislature enacted the Extended Care Permit law, which allows dental hygienists with several hundred hours of experience and a permit to provide services in community settings. The Oral Health Kansas website includes several resources and a toolkit about the Extended Care Permit.

UMKC School of Dentistry offers a course for the Extended Care Permit III, which allows hygienists with specified  training to perform certain services including removing decay using hand instruments, placing temporary fillings, and adjusting dentures.


Support initiatives to increase access to oral healthcare providers.

The Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation and Kansas Dental Association  developed the KIND Program. It stands for Kansas Initiative for New Dentists and is a loan repayment program for dental students who commit to practice in underserved areas and accept KanCare (Medicaid) beneficiaries.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment administers the Kansas State Loan Repayment Program for the federal National Health Service Corps, which repays eligible educational loans for health practitioners—including dentists—who agree to work in an underserved area in a public or non-profit agency that serves all people for at least two years.

Registered Dental Therapists (RDT) would be dental hygienists who receive an additional 18 months of training to provide certain routine and preventive services, such as cleanings, fillings and some extractions. The RDTs would work under the direction of a dentist in dental offices, safety-net clinics, and/or community settings. Learn more about the Registered Dental Therapist model from the Kansas Dental Project.

The National Governor’s Association published a paper in January 2014 about innovative models of delivering dental care, including details about a dental midlevel model: The Role of Dental Hygienists in Providing Access to Oral Health Care.


Support recruitment and retention efforts to increase dental providers and their compensation.

Medicaid rates for dentists have not increased in over 15 years. The Medicaid rates paid to dental providers are around 40% of the cost to provide services. The additional four percent cut implemented in July 2016 has made it even harder for Medicaid dental providers to continue to provide services. Learn more about how the recent rate cuts effect access to care here: KanCare Oversight testimony - November 18, 2016

News sources have chronicled the recent decision of several dentists that provide a significant amount of Medicaid care to drop contracts with some MCO’s. Read KHI News Service's “Dental surgeon says low Medicaid reimbursements hurting disabled Kansans” August 09, 2016.


Increase financial capacity to pay for dental services
Reduce financial barriers associated with professional dental care.  Full dental benefits for all Medicaid enrollees are a priority.
Advocate for a comprehensive dental benefit for all Kansas Medicaid beneficiaries.

In 2013, preventive dental benefits for adults on the Kansas Medicaid program known as KanCare were enacted. Read more about it in a blog from Oral Health Kansas Executive Director Tanya Dorf Brunner.

Oral Health Kansas proposed a Medicaid comprehensive dental benefit for adults when the KanCare program was developed. Learn more about comprehensive dental benefits in testimony to the Legislative Budget Committee.


Promote consumer awareness of the pediatric dental policies available on insureks.org and advocate for affordable implementation of this coverage.

The Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP), based in Washington, D.C., is leading national efforts to advocate for fair implementation of the ACA pediatric dental benefit. Learn more about the ACA benefit in a CDHP fact sheet.

The National Academy of State Health Policy issued a report in April 2014 entitled: Improving Integration of Dental Health Benefits in Health Insurance Marketplaces. It includes the results of a study about pediatric and adult dental coverage, benefit design, affordability and plan selection.

Oral Health Kansas, in partnership with the Children’s Dental Health Project, developed a webinar to provide an overview of Kansas marketplace dental coverage options under the Affordable Care Act. Watch the webinar for an in-depth discussion of the issues most important for Kansas Navigators to be aware of when helping consumers select dental plans. Choosing Dental Coverage on the Kansas Marketplace


Encourage elimination of administrative barriers for dental providers participating in KanCare.

The advent of KanCare added complications for dental providers who now must enroll as a Medicaid provider in addition to signing provider agreements with up to three managed care organizations. Administrative barriers can be reduced by streamlining provider agreements and making billing procedures uniform.


Advocate for expansion of KanCare.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows states to expand Medicaid eligibility to adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines. The federal government covers the cost of the expansion population until 2016, when the state match for this group eventually reaches 10 percent of the total cost. Over 150,000 Kansans would gain health insurance coverage if the program expanded under the ACA. Learn about the advocacy efforts of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas here: www.expandkancare.com.

In the fall of 2015, Oral Health Kansas sent a letter to Governor Sam Brownback, urging him to expand KanCare to lower income adults. Read the letter here: Medicaid Expansion Letter to the Governor - Fall 2015


Support increased revenue through balanced, equitable, and sustainable tax policy.

Decreasing revenues jeopardize our ability to support early care education, county health departments, public safety, programs for seniors and individuals with physical and mental disabilities and other essential services while maintaining our quality of life. Without sufficient revenue we cannot make these public investments.


Improve the Oral Health of the Public
Engage in activities to increase the oral health of all Kansans using evidence-based public health strategies.
Preserve existing community water fluoridation in Kansas.

Learn more about the benefits of community water fluoridation and find out if your neighborhood is fluoridated at Fluoride in Kansas.

Kansas Water Fluoridation Quality Achievement Awards


Encourage all early childhood organizations and agencies to align their policies by adopting the completion of a first dental visit by age one.

Dental caries is the most chronic disease in children. Young children should have their teeth and mouth assessed by a dental professional within six months of eruption of first tooth or no later than one- year old. Many organizations, including the American Dental Association, American Academy of Pediatricians and the Office of Head Start, actively support this policy. To learn more about the age one dental visit: First Dental Visit by Age One, Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD)


Encourage expansion of oral health data collection under KanCare and through population-based surveys; advocate for better reporting of data on public programs.

Members of the public including providers, consumers and advocates, can be better informed about the status of KanCare when data is readily available. Reports need to be accurate, timely and accessible.


Support initiatives to reduce use of tobacco products, including restricting access to tobacco among minors.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment sponsors a variety of tobacco control-related projects, including the Tobacco Quitline. Learn about all of the projects from the Kansas Tobacco Use Prevention Program.

The Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition leads advocacy efforts to maintain the Kansas Clean Indoor Air Act.


Advocate that plans of care account for oral health by including related questions on eligibility determination tools in the aging, disabilities, and early childhood service systems.

When oral health is discussed on a regular basis, it becomes a higher priority. Oral Health Kansas believes all service systems should assess the oral health of their consumers and include oral health care in the plans of care developed to meet each person’s needs.


Most Americans struggle with high costs of health care, limited access and a lack of information. These challenges are critically acute for the poor, and often become drivers of poverty and financial instability. In addition, health is heavily influenced by one’s life circumstances, such as where they live, learn, work and play—these conditions are rarely factored in by traditional medical treatment despite the fact they can directly impact health outcomes and costs. Kansas Oral Health Connections has a shared vision of Oral Health for All, and six shared goals: Eradicating dental disease in children; incorporating oral health into primary care; mandatory inclusion of an adult benefit in publicly funded health insurance; incorporate oral health into the primary education system, a comprehensive oral health measurement system and improve the public perception of the value of oral health to overall health. We realize that poverty, and the conditions of poverty, are some of the primary barriers to improved oral health and well being. To that end, we as a network, are united in our vision of reaching a more equitable landscape for all Kansans by 2020.
Take a look at our first year here:

2017 Oral Health Kansas Public Policy Priorities (printable PDF)

Oral Health Kansas Theory of Change

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