The Weekly Wednesday Update is our newsletter which we email every Wednesday with oral health, health and policy updates from around the state and nationally.

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June 23, 2021
Volume 12, Issue 24


Juneteenth Becomes A Federal Holiday

Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, or Juneteenth Independence Day, holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, is observed annually on June 19. In 1863, during the American Civil War, Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states to be free. Juneteenth was originally celebrated in Texas, on June 19, 1866. It marked the first anniversary of the day that African Americans there first learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, more than two years after it was initially issued. It became a state holiday in Texas in 1980.

Legislation establishing the holiday was passed by Congress on June 16, 2021, and signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden the following day. “All Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history,” Mr. Biden said at a ceremony at the White House, noting that it was the first national holiday established since Martin Luther King’s Birthday in 1983. He said signing the law was one of the greatest honors he will have as president.

 Read more about the Juneteenth holiday in The New York Times here.



Health And Dental Benefits Upheld

On June 17, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in a 7-2 decision. The Court decided that the group challenging the constitutionality of the law did not have standing to make that challenge. The ruling ensures nearly 90,000 Kansans can keep the health insurance they purchased through the ACA Marketplace. According to a new issue brief from the Kansas Health Institute, 88,627 Kansans enrolled in a health insurance plan and 88.5% of them received premium tax credits to make the insurance affordable.

The ACA became law in 2010, and it marked a significant step forward in ensuring all people have access to dental and medical insurance. The law includes provisions for all children to have dental insurance, and according to a 2020 report from the Kansas Health Institute approximately 80% of Kansas children do have dental insurance. Because such a large majority of children in our state have dental insurance, the report also notes that over 90% do not have unmet dental needs. Oral Health Kansas applauds the Supreme Court’s decision because it ensures that Kansas kids will continue to have access to dental and medical insurance.



Adding a Dental Benefit To Medicare Part B

The Center for Medicare Advocacy, together with Justice in Aging and Families USA, has released a fact sheet on adding oral health coverage to the Medicare program. This fact sheet explores why expanding Medicare Part B to include an oral health benefit would be the most inclusive and equitable approach. The fact sheet also explains that there are numerous limitations of Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans that would prevent these health plans from providing comprehensive oral health coverage to all Medicare enrollees. This fact sheet builds upon our previous fact sheet, Adding a Dental Benefit to Medicare Part B: Frequently Asked Questions. Download both Fact Sheets:
Adding a Dental Benefit to Medicare Part B: What About Medicare Advantage or Medigap Plans?  

Adding a Dental Benefit to Medicare Part B: Frequently Asked Questions



National Book Club Meeting Highlights Kansas

This week Oral Health Kansas staff members are participating in a national meeting of the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN). During the meeting OHK Executive Director Tanya Dorf Brunner had the opportunity to facilitate a book club meeting with author Dr. Jonathon Metzl about his book, “Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland.” The book shares the Kansas City-native’s research about gun policy in Missouri, health insurance in Tennessee, and tax and education policy in Kansas.

“Dying of Whiteness” has received critical acclaim for highlighting how racial resentment has negatively and extensively impacted the health of the nation. Dr. Metzl is the 2020 winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for his exploration of how “policies pitched to working-class white voters…are actually making their lives sicker, harder, and shorter.” During the book club meeting, Dr. Metzl emphasized the importance of building new structures, including coalitions, that reward collaboration in order to have a healthier society. OHK is dedicated to this approach as well as we work to build coalitions that collaborate to improve oral health for underserved Kansans.



New State Resources Available

We found some interesting resources that may be of interest to you!

  • The Kansas Bureau of Oral Health has released their summer 2021 newsletter. It includes introductions to their new team members Debra Tryon, Outreach Dental Hygienist, and James Frances, Epidemiologist, as well as a school oral health screening report.
  • A new report called “The Oral Health of Kansas’ Third Grade Children Compared to the General U.S. Population” is now available from the Kansas Bureau of Oral Health. The data was collected in 2018-19 and shows that third graders in Kansas fared better in experiencing tooth decay than the national average.
  • The Missouri Office of Dental Health has launched a new Head and Neck Cancer webpage. The American Cancer Society estimates there could be over 85,000 cases of head and neck cancer this year, and the new webpage shares steps that can be taken to slow that increase.



Want To Be An Advocate For Children In Kansas?

Kansas Action for Children (KAC) is hiring a Director of Network Engagement to support their mission by cultivating strategic partnerships and relationships with fellow nonprofits and target communities. This person will participate in coalition-building strategies across the state and maintain key relationships with partner organizations. 

KAC is looking for someone with experience building and nurturing networks, coalitions, or communities that encompass a range of perspectives, cultures, geographies, and backgrounds. An ideal candidate would also have a basic understanding of programs, policy, and social issues that affect Kansas children and families. This person will help groups understand how they can influence what's happening in Topeka: helping them act at the right time, with the right information, directed to the right people. Experience with the legislature would also be a great skill set to bring to this role!

The full details about the job are here: https://www.kac.org/work_at_kac



Upcoming Events

  • 2021 Conference on Oral Health, presented by Oral Health Kansas, November 4 and 5. More information will be provided here.
  • Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition Annual Meeting coming June 30, 2021 from 9:00am- 12:00pm. Cost is $25. Click here to register.
  • CareQuest, Consumer Perspectives on Oral Health Access, Outcomes, and Quality of Care, July 8 at 12:00pm
  • Kansas Mission of Mercy, July 23 - 24 in Wichita, Kansas. Find more information here.
  • Community Care Network of Kansas, Virtual Conference, September 20 - 23, 2021. More information coming soon.





We are thrilled to announce the new Executive Director for the Kansas Head Start Association has been selected. Jennifer Adhima is a Class 9 Dental Champions member and has worked for the past sixteen years as the Associate Director for Project Eagle, an early childhood education and family support program of the University of Kansas Medical Center. She will bring so many skills to make a big difference! OHK is looking forward to working with Jennifer in her new role.




Sugary Drink Display Sanitation

Out of an abundance of caution, we are suspending use of the Sugary Drink Display until further notice.

During this time, hand washing and social distancing is on everyone’s mind. We want everyone to have the comfort of knowing we sanitize our sugary drink displays. They are wiped down and cleaned off after they have been returned.



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