Expanded MaineCare Adult Dental Benefit Funded

Governor Janet Mills recently signed a bipartisan 2022-2023 budget that includes funds for expanded access to preventive dental care to an estimated 217,000 Mainers, while saving the state in costly emergency room visits, cutting healthcare costs statewide.

The unanimous passage of the legislation (LD 996) that the budget funds was the culmination of a three-year campaign. This bill provides comprehensive preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dental services to Maine adults 21 years or older covered by Medicaid (MaineCare). The bill’s passage, and subsequent funding, recognizes the importance of oral health to overall health and advances the State of Maine’s healthcare system.

The bill requests that a subcommittee of the MaineCareAdvisory Committee convene prior to October 1, 2021, to assist in creating a plan to implement the adult dental benefit. It further requires the Department of Health and Human Services to work with providers of oral health care and dental services to encourage participation in the MaineCare program. It requires the department to develop public education materials and strategies for their distribution. The department must also provide a five-year report on the comprehensive adult dental benefit on costs and savings, demographic data related to benefit use, and results of efforts to reduce oral health disparities for Maine racial minority, indigenous, and tribal populations to the joint standing Health and Human Services and Appropriations and Financial Affairs committees no later than January 2, 2027.

Northeast Delta Dental was a proponent of the legislation because it increases access to dental care to more adult Mainers. We couldn’t be happier for them, because better oral health will positively impact every facet of their lives and increase their overall health and wellness. The State of Maine also benefits, because it will save millions of dollars annually in healthcare costs.

Passage of the bill enjoyed bipartisan legislative supportand the support of Mainers who need dental care, health advocates, and dental and health care providers.Proponents also included the Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Maine Dental Association, Maine Equal Justice, Maine Oral Health Coalition, Maine Primary Care Association, and Partnership for Children’s Oral Health. The rallying cry of the campaign was, “dental care is health care.”

Well done everyone. An announcement available at https://www.pressherald.com/2021/07/07/health-care-advocates-reap-victories-from-maine-legislature/

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Northeast Delta Dental Sponsors the 60th Mount Washington Road Race

As most of you know, Northeast Delta Dental is not only a company that prioritizes protecting the smiles of members of our community and providing access to high-quality oral healthcare, but is also a company that is wellness focused. An example of our emphasis on wellness presented itself last weekend at the Mt. Washington Road Race.

Northeast Delta Dental’s connection to the race began as a sponsorship 21 years ago. Later, in 2011, we would become the title sponsor of the Northeast Delta Dental Mt. Washington Road Race. As part of our title sponsorship, we committed to donating a portion of the proceeds from each race to Coos County Family Dental. Donations have been made annually since then and now total more than $165,000. We are excited for donations to continue to grow each year, helping this essential dental center in New Hampshire’s North Country and the patients they serve.

But well before this partnership, since the late 1800s, Mt. Washington Auto Road existed as a special part of New Hampshire’s history; reaching the summit of Mount Washington has been on the must-do list for most travelers to the White Mountains of New Hampshire over the decades. The 7.6-mile Mt. Washington Auto Road is America’s oldest and continuously-operating attraction. It was first opened to the public in 1861 as the Mt. Washington Carriage Road, in a time when guests made the four-hour journey to the summit in specially built, horse-drawn Abbot Downing Mountain Wagons. As a family-owned business, the Mount Washington Summit Road Company (MWSRC), which has owned and operated the Mt. Washington Auto Road since 1906, takes great pride in its progression through the years, and has preserved that history for all their current-day guests and history buffs to enjoy.

I am incredibly grateful that Northeast Delta Dental’s collaboration with Mt. Washington Auto Road has resulted in continued support for the Coos County Family Health Services as they successfully strive to improve the health and well-being of our community by providing comprehensive office-based primary care services. We look forward to drawing thousands of runners from around the world to ascend Mt. Washington Auto Road, from Pinkham Notch, N.H., to the 6288-foot summit of Mt. Washington [the highest peak in the Northeast] next year and beyond. Learn more about Mt. Washington Auto Road here.

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Newport, NH, Awarded First Dr. Sylvio Dupuis Community Excellence Award

At a virtual event showcasing community excellence and success, ExcellenceNorth Alliance presented its inaugural Dr. Sylvio Dupuis Community Excellence Award to the community of Newport, New Hampshire.

Let me introduce you to Newport. Known as the Sunshine Town, it’s a community of 6,000 people nestled in the western part of New Hampshire. Newport thrived for many years. Like many other small towns, however, over the past 30-to-40 years Newport experienced a long, slow economic decline. So, three years ago, Newport native Jay Lucas and his wife, Karen Ballou, launched the Newport Sunshine Initiative (NSI), a grassroots effort to revitalize their town. NSI now involves more than 100 people creating and continuing momentum.

The intent of the Newport Sunshine Initiative is to energize and reinvigorate the positive spirit of the town. It’s not only designed to bring Newport up to par with other similar communities but to leap ahead five years beyond existing thinking and technology by innovating and using creative problem-solving.  

A key to the Sunshine Initiative’s success is economic development. It helped attract new businesses, generating more than 75 new jobs. Working with Newport High School and its technical center, the town also developed a School to Work Program to build skills needed to equip graduates for good jobs in the area. In conjunction with Dean Kamen’s FIRST Program, NSI was also instrumental in launching a robotics program and a team for competing.

Supporting the arts is also a priority. The arts center of the historic Newport Library is hosting nearly 200 events this year. And the Newport Opera House, built in 1886, has recently completed more than a million-dollar renovation.

Two of the events that the Newport Sunshine Intiative is most proud of are the Newport Winter Carnival and the Sunflower Festival. Earlier this year, the town’s positive spirit led to the continuation of the Newport Winter Carnival, the longest continuous winter carnival in the nation, despite COVID-19 challenges. As another boost to the town’s positivity, as part of the Sunflower Festival, 2,000 packets of sunflower seeds were distributed and planted throughout Newport. Last fall, it won a Guinness World Record when 339 people simultaneously created flower bouquets.

The Dr. Sylvio Dupuis Community Excellence Award recognizes and raises awareness of communities in New Hampshire that, through ingenuity and innovation, are making improvements that benefit economic conditions, quality of life, education, and/or public health.

As the award intended, the Newport Sunshine Intiative has gained insights and developed best practices to share with other communities guided by Jay and Karen, and Sunshine initiatives are underway in Laconia, Rochester, and Manchester’s West Side. For the full story of the awards event, visit the news release. To learn more about the award and why it honors the spirit of Dr. Sylvio Dupuis, former Manchester Mayor, community leader, volunteer, philanthropist, and my friend and mentor, read my blog post earlier this year “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle.

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City Year NH: Facilitating Education Equity in Manchester

Northeast Delta Dental has been a sponsor of City Year NH for several years. This program supports the well-being and learning of over 2,800 students in six Manchester schools through the work of sixty idealistic young people serving as City Year Student Success Coaches.

During the last year of the program, school attendance decreased and students switching between hybrid and remote learning became less engaged, particularly detrimental to the already vulnerable student populations served by City Year. Because students needed support and care during the last year more than ever, City Year continued to find ways to keep kids interested and attentive. They planned and executed several virtual student events.

City Year NH was unable to hold its annual Starry, Starry Night fundraiser this year. Instead, it started a new program, CY Reads, which we signed on to sponsor. CY Reads is designed to enhance students’ experiences during the pandemic through read-aloud sessions facilitated by City Year members using rich, diverse, and multi-lingual pre-recorded videos of books being read by local role models, community leaders, and national celebrities. Northeast Delta Dental was happy to contribute to this new program’s success.

One of our sponsorship benefits was the addition of 10 books to City’s Year’s student and classroom libraries in our name!  As J.K. Rowling said, “I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”

There is something gratifying about introducing students to good books. Studies have shown that it’s invaluable to get children off to an early head start by encouraging them to read. Keep up the good work, City Year NH!

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How Northeast Delta Dental’s Run Walk Volunteer Committee Persevered

When we are not protecting the healthy smiles of members of our community and providing high-quality oral healthcare, we are creating healthy spaces and opportunities for our employees. Opportunities like a dedicated Run-Walk-Volunteer committee. This special Run-Walk-Volunteer committee promotes employee participation in road races that Northeast Delta Dental sponsors.

As you may have guessed, COVID-19 forced the cancellation of many of the events we had planned during 2020-21, however we were able to pivot and develop a plan to motivate employees to keep active. The Run-Walk-Volunteer committee worked ceaselessly to preserve this special element of Northeast Delta Dental’s core values and culture by planning a series of nine virtual events, called Miles with a Mission, and selected charities in the tri-state area to support each month.

As a result, each month, March through November, between the 15th and the end of the month, employees and a plus one were invited to complete a 5K run, walk or hike. Northeast Delta Dental made a $10 donation to the selected charity for each participant. Participants were given a finisher’s certificate for completing each event and subsequent participation gifts were awarded to those who completed two or more events. At the end of this fantastic series, additional gifts were awarded to those who completed six or more events. 

I am excited to conclude that in the month of April 2021 alone, we had a total of 66 participants, 47 employees representing 20 departments at Northeast Delta Dental. Our employees also spread their joy for participating to their community and network resulting in 19 plus ones joining the series. As of April 30, 51 participants qualify for a ‘pick two’ challenge prize and a $660 donation was made to Preble Street in Portland, Me for the committee’s efforts in just that one month.

I am proud to say that while the normal way we do things at Northeast Delta Dental was shuttered for much of last year, we, with the support of our employees, were able to sustain this special experience and look ahead to what more is possible.

Learn more about Northeast Delta Dental here.

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