WHAT: More than 200 seniors will come to together to urge California’s Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to direct Proposition 56 funds to support senior dental care. The seniors are asking the department to increase access to dental services for low-income seniors. The ultimate goal with this effort is to increase access for low income-seniors to services and incentivize providers to give better care.
Proposition 56 is a California ballot proposition that passed on the November 8, 2016 ballot. It will increase the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, effective April 1, 2017, with equivalent increases on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine. In the next year, $1.7 billion dollars will be collected by the tobacco tax hike voters overwhelmingly approved in November. $546 million of the $1.7 billion collected in 2017 will go to reimbursements for Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal, which will be renegotiated each year. DHCS will determine the rules for allocating these supplemental payments by July 31, 2017.
WHEN: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
WHERE: Serving Seniors’ Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center
1525 Fourth Ave. (Downtown San Diego, corner of 4th Ave. and Beech Street)
WHY: Poor oral health among seniors has become a hidden epidemic in San Diego and across the country with millions living with untreated cavities, tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss due to limited or no access to basic dental care.
- According to San Diego County’s 2012 Survey of Older Americans, more seniors were concerned about being able to afford dental care than medical care (38 percent vs. 30 percent). This was their greatest concern among eight health related issues.
- According to the CDC, seniors have a higher rate of new tooth decay than children and are prone to issues like dry mouth, tooth loss, oral cancer and periodontal disease. The prevalence and severity of these conditions increase with age.
- Over 85 percent of the senior patients at GMWSDC are covered by the Denti-Cal program, and 55 percent report cost as a barrier to receiving dental care, including Veterans who served our country.
INTERVIEWS & VISUALS: More than 200 seniors signing cards of support to DHCS to advocate using Proposition 56 funds to support senior dental care. Seniors available for interview. Spanish-speaking.
- Seniors like Avelina Greeno, 68-year-old former receptionist from National City who received new dentures from the West Senior Dental Center after years of struggling with dental issues that interfered with her ability to eat, speak and interact with friends
- Paul Downey, President/CEO, Serving Seniors, Chair of the California Commission on Aging
- Dr. Karen Becerra, DDS, MPH, CEO and dental director, West Senior Dental Center. Spanish-speaking
- Tour the new state-of-the-art Gary and Mary West Senior Dental clinic located inside the Serving Seniors’ West Senior Wellness Center. Launched in October 2016, the 1,400-square-foot clinic links high-quality and affordable healthcare with a suite of nutrition, case management and wellness services offered through Serving Seniors’ Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, creating a one-of-a-kind, integrated community-based system of care for adults. The clinic is expected to treat more than 1,000 low-income seniors during its first year.