Pew Center: The State of Children’s Dental Health

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The Pew Center on the States is up with their latest state grades on children’s dental health.
More than 16 million children still lack access to basic dental care despite efforts by states to improve their dental health policies, according to this year’s 50-state report card from Pew.

The State of Children’s Dental Health: Making Coverage Matter graded states’ ability to serve insured and soon-to-be insured children. In the face of major budget shortfalls, 22 states were able to raise their 2010 grades, proving that dental health policies can be improved at a relatively low cost.

Pew graded the states based on eight benchmarks that are a roadmap for policymakers looking to improve and expand access to children’s dental health. The grades reflect changes that have occurred since Pew’s initial assessment in 2010.

While many states have made significant strides in improving oral health policies, too may kids children without proper dental care, mainly because of a shortage of dentists willing to serve Medicaid-enrolled patients.

I will have more to say on their report in the morning, but for now, here are the key findings.

  • 27 states earned grades of an A or B, while 23 states and the District of Columbia received a C or lower grade.
  • 22 states raised their grades and six of them have improved by at least two letter grades: Arkansas, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah and West Virginia.
  • Seven states received an A grade, and five earned an F.  Three of those five states—Florida, Hawaii and New Jersey—got an F for the second consecutive year.
  • States that raised their grades made progress primarily by reimbursing physicians for preventative dental services, expanding water fluoridation and increasing the percentage of Medicaid-enrolled children who receive care.
  • 23 states made no progress over last year’s grades.
  • Six states received lower grades mainly because Medicaid reimbursement rates have not kept pace with the growth in dentists’ fees.

California received a grade of “C” which is surprising due to the fact that the state eliminated Dental Medicaid for adults. But, I suppose this is a children’s report. I will discuss the methodology and their findings tomorrow.

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Flap’s Links and Comments for May 23rd on 16:38

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These are my links for May 23rd from 16:38 to 16:58:

Michele Bachmann

President 2012: The 2012 GOP Presidential Field is Set?

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Republican Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announces he is running for President in Des Moines, Iowa, May 23, 2011

Yes. Probably so.

High-level Republican leaders tell POLITICO that they now believe the top tier of the presidential field is set, and that no major donors or operatives will remain on the sidelines hoping a dream candidate will make a last-minute entry.

These leaders calculate that they are better off to accept the Mitch Daniels-less field as it is and not continue to waffle, letting President Barack Obama continue to build strength while the GOP dawdles.

“The waiting is over,” said Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and counselor to President George W. Bush. “Things are going to accelerate pretty quickly now.”

“You’re seeing everything you’re going to get,” said a Republican who has talked privately with the leading candidates.

The energy in the party, of course, is currently in the tea-party and social conservative wings—there’s support in those quarters for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who is increasingly looking like a candidate, and Sarah Palin, whose plans are a mystery.

And a group of Iowa GOP donors is scheduled to travel to New Jersey at the end of the month to encourage Gov. Chris Christie to run.

But the GOP establishment is now convinced that Mitt Romney is the front-runner, and that Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman have a narrow window to determine who will become the stronger alternative – the anti-Mitt in the GOP field.

It will be Mitt Romney versus Tim Pawlenty in one semi-final contests to face off against Michele Bachman or Sarah Palin. Romney is the most likely victor here with T-Paw or Mitt Daniels as the Vice President selection.

Two game changers would be Sarah Palin and Chris Christie but despite some overtures for him to run, I think he probably stays out.

But, this from Romney advisors is kind of strange. Sarah Palin is unpredictable and why antagonize the Mama Grizzly?

In an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity last week, Palin said she was “still seriously considering it.”

Republicans officials have no idea what she’s planning, although they agree she would have tons to lose by entering a race that would cost her the mystique she has built up. And Romney advisers said her entry would help the former Massachusetts governor dramatically.

“The shock value would cause elected officials and party officials to rally around Mitt, because she’d scare the daylights out of them,” one official said. “And it would allow him to position himself very much in the middle of Republican, conservative thinking and avoid the fringe, and look more moderate for the general election.”

Bachmann would have the same effect, the advisers said. Either of them “gives Romney a bogeyman: ‘Stop this crazy woman.’”

Another top Republican said he relishes the idea of a Palin candidacy: “She’ll be defeated, and we’ll be done with her.”

I think Sarah Palin would be able to defeat Michele Bachmann in Iowa and then South Carolina becomes the battleground, where Romney could finish third or fourth. The race could then blow up and drag on for weeks or months – something the GOP can ill-afford against Obama.

It is probably better for the Romney staff to keep their mouths shut and ask Sarah to give some speeches and do some fundraising for them.

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Flap’s Links and Comments for May 23rd on 15:58

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These are my links for May 23rd from 15:58 to 16:38:

  • Two patients died after waiting in ambulance outside ‘full’ Oldham hospital unit – Two patients died after being left waiting in ambulances outside an over-stretched hospital.

    The patients, believed to have been in their 80s, couldn’t get into the Royal Oldham Hospital for seven and 20 minutes respectively.

    They were assessed by ambulance crews as ‘very sick’ and were both suspected of having suffered heart attacks.

    The A&E department was so busy that all but the most urgent cases were being sent to other hospitals at the time. All five resuscitation beds at Oldham were full.

    The two patients were assessed and treated by a casualty doctor and senior nurse in the ambulances.

    It is understood neither actually had suffered a heart attack by the time they were admitted – although both later died at the hospital. One died in the resuscitation unit the following day and the other three days after being admitted to a ward.

    A probe has been launched after ambulance chiefs reported the incident to regional health authority NHS North West.


    Read it all.

    Get ready for ObamaCare

  • CA-36: What Went Wrong in the L.A. Special Election? – Hahn is expected to win the July run-off, but we expect turnout to be even lower. Huey can easily self-fund with another $500,000, and labor will have to expend its scarce resources to crank its turnout effort and put Hahn over the top. As blogger Marta Evry pointed out, Hahn will win the special election in July – but re-districting could change the demographics and make the district more Republican in 2012. Her complete analysis is well worth reading in full, but I’ll just quote one line from it: “Janice Hahn’s strategic choices, coupled with Marcy Winograd’s ego, may have created a perfect storm in which a to bring a previously unknown Tea Party candidate to national prominence.”


    Read it all…..

    From the LEFT perspective…..

  • Janice Hahn Won The Battle In 2011. Could She Lose The War In 2012? – From what I've heard and read, CA-36 is probably going to lose everything north of LAX, and potentially gain back Palos Verdes. Palos Verdes, connected to an Orange County district by a block-wide strip in Long Beach and a narrow strip of San Pedro, is profoundly gerrymandered. Those Republicans have to go somewhere.

    If this happens, it would significantly cut into Democrat's voter registration advantage, and create a district that more closely resembles the one in which Janice Hahn previously ran for congress in 1998.

    Hahn lost that race, to Republican Steve Kuykendall, 47% to 49%.

    Janice Hahn got the opponent she wanted. But by helping to advance Huey into the runoff, Hahn has elevated him from an unknown evangelical advertising consultant to a national figure in the Tea Party movement. The media isn't ignoring Craig Huey anymore. He has two months to build up his name recognition and base of support. And when he loses in July, he can turn right around and start stumping for the June 2012 primary race in a district likely to be far more receptive to his message.


    Read it all.

    Craig Huey indeed could lose in July and still come out the winner.

  • Jon Huntsman Jr., potential GOP candidate hits California for fundraising swing : – Former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman heading to California this week — just in time to pump up his fundraising base as the 2012 GOP presidential race shapes up.

    The former Utah Governor, who's been described as the possible GOP candidate "Democrats fear most," hits San Francisco Tuesday, Los Angeles Wednesday and Orange County on Thursday of this week. The Palo Alto native will be having private meetings with California donors and supporters, sources say.


    Money will never be Huntsman's problem but his moderate position on the issues will be.

  • President 2012: Not the whole truth in Pawlenty claims – Truth" was Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's buzzword Monday when he announced his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. He said he will tell the truth about hard choices facing the nation while others — President Barack Obama notably among them — do not.
    A parsing of Pawlenty's opening-day statements shows they were not the whole truth.
    Here is a sampling of his claims Monday and how they compare with the facts.
    PAWLENTY: "The truth is, people getting paid by the taxpayers shouldn't get a better deal than the taxpayers themselves. That means freezing federal salaries, transitioning federal employee benefits, and downsizing the federal work force as it retires." — Campaign announcement.
    THE FACTS: A federal pay freeze is already in effect. Obama proposed and Congress approved a two-year freeze on the pay of federal employees, exempting the armed forces, Congress and federal courts.
    PAWLENTY: "ObamaCare is unconstitutional." — USA Today column.
    THE FACTS: Obama's health care overhaul might be unconstitutional in Pawlenty's opinion, but it is not in fact unless the Supreme Court says so. Lower court rulings have been split.
    PAWLENTY: "Barack Obama has consistently stood for higher taxes." — Campaign announcement.
    THE FACTS: Obama's record shows more tax cutting than tax raising. The stimulus plan early in his presidency cut taxes broadly for the middle class and business, and more recently he won a substantial cut in Social Security taxes for a year. He also campaigned in support of extending the Bush-era tax cuts for all except the wealthy, whose taxes he wanted to raise. In office, he accepted a deal from Republicans extending the tax cuts for all. As for tax increases, Obama won congressional approval to raise them on tobacco and tanning salons. The penalty for those who don't buy health insurance, once coverage is mandatory, is a form of taxation.
    PAWLENTY: "For decades before I was elected, governors tried and failed to get Minnesota out of the top 10 highest-taxed states in the country. I actually did it." — Campaign announcement.
    THE FACTS: Minnesota remains among the 10 worst states in its overall tax climate, according to the Tax Foundation. In its 2011 State Business Tax Climate Index, the anti-tax organization ranks Minnesota 43rd, making it the eighth worst state. The ranking slipped from 41st two years earlier. The index considers corporate, individual, sales, unemployment insurance and property taxes.


    Read them all.

    Tim Pawlenty will NOT be the GOP nominee.