Medical and Dental Care@100%
Medical and Dental Care@100% means all children and families can easily access care.
Inside The Center
Here’s a quick overview of what you will find below.
What Families Face
Short stories from families facing challenges, illustrating the need to address barriers to vital services.
10 Innovations Await
The sidebar menu takes you to ten innovations areas, each one providing projects action team members are implementing to remove barriers to services.
The Root Causes
We provide an overview of why families struggle to access vital services in what we might call “normal times” and in times of public health or economic crisis.
A Pandemic’s Impact on services
A brief review of how the pandemic impacts each county across the state.
Where on Earth
How solutions exist today.
The Center’s Mission
Health Care for 100%
Welcome to the Center for Medical and Dental Care@100%, the nation’s first center to provide county and city stakeholders with research, data-driven strategies, insights and support to end health disparities on a countywide scale, ensuring all resident’s medical and dental care needs are met. Health disparities, lack of timely access to quality care, has been with us for as long as we have been using the science of medicine on the planet. In the last few decades societies of all sizes have found ways to provide accessible care to all residents.
In modern societies the cause of health disparities can often be tracked down to lack of investment in the human capital and resources to secure a healthy supply of care providers. In the USA, a country with vast amounts of wealth and resources, we have all the technology and know how to make health care insecurity history.
One quick online search will overwhelm you with solutions to the health disparities problem. The enormous number of results shows that there are many people searching for answers, interested in understanding the root causes of health disparities and how to solve them.
When we begin to “Google it” for results:
Is health care a right?: 3,000,000,000
How does technology improve our health care: 401,000,000
Which country has the best health care: 691,000,000
Dental care in rural communities: 30,600,000
Medical clinics on wheels: 7,350,000
Within an internet full of valuable research, inspiring insights and distracting clutter, solutions await you here in the Center for Medical and Dental Care@100%. Your introduction to the issues here in the “Center’s Main Hall” will guide you to what we call our ten “Innovation Areas” where action team projects await your review and engagement.
The Center for Medical and Dental Care@100% provides you with the strategies to ensure, county by county, that systems of medical and dental care are working effectively to serve all residents. We live in a time of vast knowledge regarding innovations in health promotion, patient care, delivery and design, development, and treatment where the only reasons for a family going without easy access to care in your locality are all manmade. The human ingenuity you discover here can ensure that 100% survive and thrive.
Keeping healthy is the goal. Whether it’s a child, parent or grandparent, staying healthy means having access to timely and affordable health care. Surviving the day may depend on it. Lack of access to health care can have serious consequences in everyday life and is magnified during times of crisis as we have seen during epidemics. All of us need to know where we can access timely medical care.
In the Center for Medical and Dental Care@100% we take on a very complicated system with numerous challenges and provide an overview of the medical and dental systems as well as a framework for solving problems. Get ready to be overwhelmed and also inspired. We will guide you through all the steps to put ideas into action.
“Health disparities is a man-made problem, not an act of nature, requiring human ingenuity to solve.”
— From the book Medical and Dental Care@100%: How we ensure all county residents can access medical and dental care
What Families Face
*These are fictionalized profiles based on real New Mexican residents.
Jen and Marie's Story
It’s Time For Heroic Acts
You are about to review approximately twenty projects within 10 innovation areas that can, if done successfully, improve the quality and accessibility of current services. The long-term goal of these innovations and projects is to ensure that 100% of county residents have access to this vital service. Your task is to review all projects, individually and as part of an action team, to identify which one you wish to implement. In the time it takes to enjoy a grande latte, you can give our menu of innovations a quick read, starting with Innovation #1: Tracking Supply and Demand and ending with Innovation #10: Developing the City Dept. of Medical and Dental Care. These include projects initiated by action teams focused on a county and all the communities within its borders.
Health disparities have a long history
Health disparities are impacting our most vulnerable children and families with consequences for education, job readiness and public trust of government.
Health Disparities Face Us All
MEDICAL AND DENTAL CARE HAS EVERYTHING to do with our quality of life. If we can access quality care in a timely manner, we function better and we are healthier. If our access to care is threatened, we are in serious trouble.
Every county has residents experiencing health care disparities and some have segments of the population reporting extreme difficulty accessing care. In times of crisis like a pandemic, access to medical care becomes even more critical.
In the Center for Medical and Dental Care@100% (and corresponding chapter in the book 100% Community) we provide an overview of a very complicated system and its numerous challenges, as well as programs that reduce disparities. Get ready to be inspired. We will guide you through all the steps needed to put ideas for addressing health care security into action.
With literally millions of people reading articles on ending health disparities and thousands of foundations, governmental and non-governmental organizations focusing for decades on ending health care insecurity in the United States, why is access to timely care still so prevalent across fifty states? Why are students arriving at school with problems related to lack of medical, mental and dental care? Why do parents working full time not have enough money for medical and dental care? Why do clinics have long waiting lists and how could hospitals run out of beds along with enough providers to care for residents in a public health crisis?
We don’t mean to question our good-hearted leaders in political, academic and philanthropic circles, but there appears to be a complete disconnect between those who claim to have answers and the actual implementation of solutions to ensure 100% of our residents are able to access care. What are our morals, ethics and values that allow health disparities to exist amid so much abundance?
What kind of society would allow a policy of benign neglect to doom entire zip codes to health disparities? Why should our most vulnerable children and families ever endure pain because care providers are out of reach? If we ever needed a public and private sector solution to health disparities, this is the moment.
Some of us grew up with TV commercials asking that we send money to poverty-stricken counties across the globe to provide medical care. Plenty of websites and organizations still ask. You may notice that there is no mention of why the elected leaders of the same democratic countries where the commercials are airing are not ensuring medical care for all their own people. Truly, why are we all not asking, “What is the root cause of health disparities in the US and around the world?”
What the center can (and cannot) do
This is not an article about medical procedures or protocols for health care providers. This is not about medical advice or how to treat trauma from the point of view of medical professionals. This is an article about ensuring that everyone in your county can access medical and dental care when it’s needed. It’s about a profession that has the term “caring” often associated with it. So let’s collectively care deeply about making your county the healthiest in the state.
“Why don’t parents just call the doctor?”
Health care is a survival issue. In our 100% New Mexico initiative, we brand medical and dental care as one of our survival services. Simply put, untreated or poorly treated health or dental ailments can drag down school performance, strain relationships and generally stand in the way of a good life for kids, parents and anybody else. Neglect, the main reason parents have their children taken into child protective services’ custody, may be the result of parents not being able to get medical or dental care for their child.
Our best bet for addressing a host of health challenges is ensuring easy access to a quality, comprehensive health care system at an affordable price. We need not become the United Kingdom — where everything is free at the point of service — but we should make sure that parents don’t skip their kid’s medical treatment because they can’t afford it.
What We Know
Our county survey will tell you why families struggle to access medical and dental care services and programs. Reasons include lack of programs, cost, no transport to programs, unaware of programs and unfriendly hours.
Who Lacks Care?
Health Disparities Have many causes
With clinics, hospitals and telemedicine a fixture in most of our regions, it seems inconceivable that kids or adults in our country should suffer from lack of medical and dental care.
In fact, the reality on the ground has been, up to now, difficult to gauge when it comes to specifically measuring health disparities in communities. Are lots of people ill and slowly dying on the streets, due to health disparities across the USA? This is an important question, but the real question is, “What do health disparities look like?” Four children playing ball in a school yard may not conjure up images of poor health due to lack of care. However, we don’t know how long it’s been since each had their last medical and dental check up. We have no idea what type of dental pain they have been told to endure because dental care is too expensive. What percentage of people lacking access to timely care is acceptable to you and your elected leaders? How does a pandemic impact the question of how difficult access to care may be in both rural and urban communities? Would you be okay being told your health care requires waiting weeks or months to access? Should any child, anywhere in your county, face barriers to needed care?
We ask: what are the root causes of health disparities?
The list covers a range of causes and solutions.
- Lack of insurance: In the United States, your health insurance varies depending on where you (or your spouse or parent) work, which means that every time employment or familial relationships are disrupted, so is health insurance. If you get a great new job or get married, you also get to deal with health insurance paperwork, and that’s the best case scenario. We also inflict this burdensome chore on those who were recently laid off and those who are getting divorced, even those fleeing an abusive relationship. Enrolling in health insurance, especially if you don’t get it through a job, can be cumbersome and complex. Inevitably, a certain percentage of the population won’t figure it out, or won’t recognize that they really need to figure it out, which limits their access.
- Lack of comprehensive coverage: Health insurance isn’t always very comprehensive. Sometimes, you can get the care you need for a $5 copayment. Sometimes, you have to pay the full price until you hit your $6,000 deductible. It just depends on your plan. Those with less comprehensive plans and not a lot of pocket money are effectively shut out of the system.
- Inability to pay: The people who need it most are often not in a situation to pay for it, or not in a situation where they have the ability to fill out the, often overly complex, insurance paperwork. Teens running away from or getting thrown out of abusive homes, women or men fleeing abusive relationships, and those descending into horrible addictions, are examples of people who are not likely to come to the system of their own accord. Unfortunately, the system is not likely to find them either.
- Lack of providers: In some areas, there are chronic shortages of health providers. If you have to make ten calls just to find someone accepting new patients, only to make an appointment three months from now, access is effectively restricted. Ditto if the provider works on the other side of a large city or in the next county over, and you don’t have a car.
- Immigration status: Non-citizens are ineligible for many services. ICE has raided emergency rooms and clinics, making asylum seekers afraid to seek care. Legal immigrants fear that it will be harder to become a citizen if they enroll in public insurance plans like Medicaid or subsidies on health insurance exchanges.
Data Guide Us
With data from the 100% New Mexico Survey and other sources, you will have a good idea about where in your county the need for medical and dental services exists and why access is difficult for both parents and children. You may be surprised by your survey results and learn that a challenge is far bigger or smaller or more localized than originally thought.
Ensuring Services: A Local Challenge
People face different levels of hardship and risk during a pandemic directly related to their level of access to the 10 vital services for surviving and thriving. Inaccessible medical care, a lack of housing and food programs, and greatly increased joblessness during the associated economic downturn take a tremendous toll on families. It doesn’t have to be this way.
A Pandemic’s Impact on Services
Vital Questions Require Answers
In so-called “normal” times before the COVID-19 pandemic, health disparities were a fixture of our society. The pandemic has only increased the stresses on the health care systems as well as created more urgency for people to have timely access to prevention and treatment. The most pressing questions for your city, county and state elected leaders and stakeholders include:
- How do we collect, analyze and publish the most timely data to guide prevention strategies?
- How do we ensure enough COVID-19 tests and testing sites?
- How do we ensure providers have the protective equipment required to be safe?
- How do we ensure enough contact tracing?
- How do we prevent homelessness and hunger if people in lock down or quarantine lose their job?
- How do we strengthen mask-wearing and social distancing?
- How do we ensure treatment, both hospital beds and providers?
- How do we distribute the vaccine with buy-in from the public?
- How do we address depression and trauma by ensuring access to behavioral health care?
- How are vital family services for surviving and thriving made accessible to 100% of residents?
As you can see, question #10 places access to ten vital services into a comprehensive state and local strategy to prevent the pandemic. The 100% New Mexico initiative’s framework for ending barriers to services is vital and our work is urgently needed in each county. New Mexico State Senator Bill Soules, PhD, wrote in his Op-ed in the Las Cruces Sun News, “100% New Mexico: A model for COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment”:
“…an effective response to the pandemic goes beyond the medical sector. The countywide response required ten accessible services, allowing families to keep stabilized, supported, fed and housed, in order to comply with the state’s public health guidelines and to endure quarantining, isolating, social distancing and mask-wearing.”
We can happily report that many localities across the nation and globe have successfully prevented health disparities by ensuring universal access to care which may include a public sector solution or a combination of public and private sector solutions.
Where on earth?
WHERE ON EARTH HAS THIS CHALLENGE BEEN FIXED?
Medical and Dental Health Care@100% is looking at tested health care solutions, focused on innovations, projects, policies and programs implemented in large and small cities around the world.
If you have come this far, you know that ending health disparities in your community starts with knowing the magnitude of the problem, where precisely activities that indicate challenges (such as substance misuse, dietary challenges, etc.) are experienced and why children, youth and adults can’t access services to address the problems.
We present a challenge to you, your local business people and government leaders: Create a seamless countywide system of accessible medical and dental care to make health disparities history so every child, student and family member gets the care they need to thrive.
As you will see below, we have offered only a sliver of what’s out there in terms of innovations that have been shown to reduce health disparities and to empower individuals of all ages to find a path to robust health. Some models have been with us for decades and are tried, true and evaluated strategies. Some are quite new and merit experimentation and their own evaluation. We do not lack for solutions, just the political will to implement them.
Three important frameworks
As we say in all ten sector chapters, we want to reference the data-driven framework called Continuous Quality Improvement and its four phases: assessment, planning, action and evaluation (100% Community, Chapter 29). This four-step process will guide your development of innovations in the arena of medical and dental care. And, as a reminder, you will want to use Collective Impact (100% Community, Chapter 31) to organize your project and Adaptive Leadership (100% Community, Chapter 30) to determine if the particular challenge you seek to solve is technical, with established protocols for moving forward, or adaptive, where you are entering new uncharted territory without a clear path.
Designing a Countywide System
The past: How did we get to this point of needing a family-friendly medical and dental health care system? Who exactly needs services to be “family-friendly” anyway? What are the problems the system is supposed to solve? Why don’t people just figure out the systems on their own? Can’t everyone access care in a timely manner?
The present (action agenda): Within this subject, we’ve identified ten strategies — called innovation areas — that can be used to tackle the medical and dental health care access problem. Within those we suggest about twenty 100% New Mexico initiative projects that you (yes, you) can take on, thus propelling your community towards family-friendly health care in its many forms.
The future (goals): With enough work on these innovations/projects, we’ll get to the point where Innovation #10 — the creation of a City/County Department of Family-Friendly Medical and Dental Care — becomes a reality. With a state-of-the-art system of care in place, 100% of our county’s families could report excellent support and service.
Since we are currently in the present creating the future, your commitment to innovation is most eagerly sought and needed.
Partnerships and teamwork
At the heart of innovation are change agents implementing data-driven projects shown to fix barriers to services.
10 INNOVATIONS TO EXPLORE
CHANGE AGENTS NEEDED NOW
The following innovations represent strategies that have the capacity to increase access to medical and dental care programs to ensure our children and families are healthy, safe and successful.
As you will see as you explore Innovations #1–#10, a countywide system of health care security engages all stakeholders within the county’s borders that include data specialists, the private sector, technology experts, public awareness specialists, educators, health agency leaders, city mayors, council members and county commissioners. Your work will be groundbreaking as it unites leaders in all sectors to achieve one goal: health security for 100%.