Dental Program History
Nearly a decade ago, The Arc of Florida polled families, caregivers, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the state to present their most challenging health care needs as a top advocacy issue. Overwhelmingly the response was a desperate plea for dental treatment services. With this information The Arc of Florida developed a program that would address this unmet need. Fortunately, The Arc of Florida received a special legislative appropriation in 2012 to pay for preventive and acute dental services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This Dental Program was formed and opened its doors in July 2012 to become the first of its kind in the state to bridge the gap for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to a network of dental providers with the experience and willingness to provide care for this tragically underserved population.
Many of the individuals applying to The Arc of Florida Dental Program have Medicaid which covers very limited dental procedures. Others receive dental treatment through Managed Care dental plans, but the service coverage is still limited, and even fewer dental practitioners accept this form of insurance. As a result, many times individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have to choose between dental services and other necessary services such as transportation, group home placement, or daily meaningful activity.
The Arc of Florida has recruited and continues to engage dental providers to join our service network and provide much-needed dental care to the individuals we serve. Through the special appropriation, we can privately pay for these services at market rates instead of billing Medicaid or the individual. From July 2012 to the present, over 8,500 individuals have been served through our dental program and the demand for services continues to increase each year.
Our ultimate goal is to make this a sustainable program to serve one of Florida’s most overlooked and undertreated populations. We rely on the generosity and support of the Florida Legislature, and the compassion of dental practitioners who are willing to rise to the occasion and help this vulnerable population take a giant step forward for their health. Together we can help the people we serve secure greater quality of life today and in their future.