Deamonte Driver Dental Project Announcement
November 13, 2008
Good afternoon and thank you all for joining us. Thanks to Senator Currie, President Ramsay, and everyone with the Dental Action Committee and the Foundation School.
And thanks especially to Alyce Driver, whose courage and determination has inspired our entire State to come together after the tragic loss of her son Deamonte – a loss which continues to weigh heavily on all our hearts.
While there is nothing we can ever do to compensate for the loss of Deamonte, we can honor his memory by doing everything in our power to make sure his death was not in vain; to guarantee that in the richest country on the planet, no child ever dies for want of care from a toothache.
We’re here this afternoon at the school Deamonte attended to honor his life and spirit, to ensure his story will never be forgotten, and above all to take action to prevent this story from ever being repeated.
We are announcing today that we will be investing $288,106 in what we call the “Deamonte Driver Dental Project” – part of $2 million we’re investing together to help develop school-based dental initiatives and expand services.
Through this initiative, we’ll be bringing a dental van to schools throughout Prince George’s County and the surrounding region – offering diagnostic, preventative, and restorative dental services to underprivileged children.
It is our belief that, had these services been available to Deamonte, his life may have been saved.
In addition to State funding, this project is being made possible with assistance from the Robert T. Freeman Dental Society Foundation, and we are grateful to them for stepping up and doing what they can to protect the lives of Maryland’s children.
We have made it a top priority for our Administration to improve dental care for our children and for our other underprivileged neighbors who otherwise would be unable to access the care they need:
- Together, we’re increasing the incentives we offer to dentists to encourage more and more of them to provide Medicaid services. Over the next three years, we’ll be increasing reimbursement funding by $40 million. To give you an example of what this means, the reimbursement rate for dentists who provide sealants will increase from $9 to $33 – something that we believe will lead to significantly more dentists taking Medicaid patients.
- Together, we’re making an overall $68 million investment in dental services statewide. By comparison, in 2006 (under the previous administration), our State invested only $48 million.
- Together, we’re removing bureaucratic roadblocks which have been preventing dental hygienists from providing the full array of legally permissible services at public health clinics when a dentist is not present (thus opening the door for more of our neighbors to receive the care they need).
- Together, we’re moving towards a single, statewide dental vendor to increase efficiency, simplify the existing program, and provide greater transparency and accountability.
- And together, we're increasing the number of young people (through age 20) that will receive at least one Medicaid-funded dental service. In 2006, 144,000 young Marylanders received at least one service, and in 2007, together we brought that number up to 162,000.
We continue to make real and steady progress together, moving forward toward the better, healthier future all of us prefer.
But we still have a long way to go – 300,000 kids in Maryland are still waiting to receive dental care, and it’s our shared responsibility as Marylanders to make sure they do.
Together we can ensure that the legacy we leave for our children is a legacy of better schools, stronger infrastructure, cleaner energy and more affordable healthcare.
Because there is no spare American, there is no spare Marylander, and there is no spare child.