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2023: A Year of Challenges and Triumphs

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Dear Friends, Supporters, and Community Members,

As we close the chapter on 2023, I want to take a moment to reflect on what has been a tumultuous yet transformative year for A Smile for Kids (ASK). The introduction of the new orthodontic Medicaid benefit in Oregon, effective January 1, 2023, marked a significant shift in our landscape. It has been a year of immense learning, adaptation, and dedication as we navigated these changes while steadfastly serving our mission.

Navigating the New Medicaid Benefit

The new Medicaid benefit brought both opportunities and challenges. Our team worked tirelessly to help Medicaid members, guardians, orthodontists, treatment coordinators, caseworkers, administrators, and state employees understand and navigate this new landscape. Our website and blog became a hub of information, addressing the myriad of questions arising from the 23 different interpretations by coordinated care organizations (CCOs) and dental Medicaid payers. This effort was crucial in mitigating confusion and ensuring that the benefits reached those in need.

Continuing Our Core Mission

Despite these additional responsibilities, our core mission remained our guiding star. We currently have 113 active kids in braces across Oregon. Our team ensured that these children not only received their orthodontic treatment but also fulfilled their commitments to community service and academic excellence. This in-depth casework and compliance work are the backbone of our program, ensuring not just improved dental health and self-esteem, but also a higher-than-expected positive health outcome for each child.

Fundraising and Community Support

The financial aspect of our mission cannot be overstated. Even with generous discounts and in-kind donations from our orthodontic partners, the expenses for our active cases approached half a million dollars. This underscores the importance of our continuous fundraising efforts, grant writing, and corporate donation appeals. These funds are vital in creating better health outcomes for our children and, in many cases, their families too. I am grateful for any support we have received since we started the work in 2004, but this year we are all especially happy for every penny donated to ASK.

A Holistic Approach to Child Health

At ASK, we view each child holistically. We actively look for Health Related Social Needs services, leveraging our network of school advocates, counselors, healthcare professionals, and caseworkers. Our involvement with the UniteUs platform, also called ConnectOregon, allows us to both receive and issue referrals, further enhancing our ability to change lives through a comprehensive approach to each child's health.

Looking Ahead to 2024

As we step into 2024, we are poised to move forward more deliberately through our current formation of an additional LLC, with the ability to contract for services with any of the partners who are charged with administering and paying for the new benefit. The resources we are gaining through contracts in the ASK LLC will be instrumental in helping OHP/Medicaid members, with any profits being allocated to ensure continuation of our ASK nonprofit work. We remain committed to serving those who inevitably will still fall through the cracks on the OHP/Medicaid side, ensuring that every child in Oregon can smile with confidence, regardless of social and financial status. It’s an equity issue for us.

In closing, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to each of you – our supporters, partners, and community members. Your belief in our mission fuels our efforts and makes a tangible difference in the lives of Oregon's children. On behalf of Diane, Kasey, Michael and myself, here's to a new year filled with hope, health, and smiles!

Kind regards,

Christian Moller-Andersen

Executive Director, A Smile for Kids

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