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The Axios roundtable this past Wednesday in Cambridge. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

On Wednesday, Axios' Sam Baker hosted an Expert Voices Live roundtable in Cambridge, MA on health care access and affordability in the state.

Local leaders in academia, community health and health tech discussed the challenges of an increasingly fragmented health care industry, the importance of integrating dental and medical education, and the shared goal of reaching low-access communities.

Fragmentation in care
Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, Chief Impact Officer at DentaQuest, in conversation at the Axios roundtable. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

A significant portion of the conversation was dedicated to discussing the challenges of fragmented health care services and how to incorporate oral health into the broader conversation around health care.

  • Myechia Minter-Jordan, Chief Impact Officer at DentaQuest, on looking at the models of integrating mental health: "We're finally moving the needle on that. [We can] apply these lessons to oral health...We see that it works, and the time is now. We have enough advocacy at all levels."
  • Michael Apkon, President and CEO at Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children, on comparing the Canadian health care system to the American: "[In Canada] the system is designed around social justice. The government works actively to address rural health and integration between primary and specialty care...The architecture of [the US health care] system is designed to perpetuate a fee for service...We don’t do macro innovation well."
Integrating medical and dental education
Dr. R. Bruce Donoff, Dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, on Wednesday morning. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

The role that education plays in expanding the knowledge base of medical and dental care providers alike was a focal point in the discussion.

  • Paula Milone-Nuzzo, President and John Hilton Knowles Professor at MGH Institute of Health Professions, on inter-professional education: "We don’t teach the integration of oral health with regular health. We’ve brought that closer together, but it’s not where it needs to be...Teaching people together will make a significant change."
  • Dr. R. Bruce Donoff, Dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine at Harvard Medical School, on the importance of teamwork and the limited bandwidth of medical students: "You need [medical professionals] who are newly trained, who always think of oral health. Right now, medical students don’t have time to learn about oral health."
Reaching patients across barriers
Anh Vu Sawyer, Executive Director at Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, discussing the importance of engaging directly with the community. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

Developing solutions around access was a frequently analyzed topic — from bridging language and cultural barriers to Americans' demanding working hours that prevent them from accessing care.

  • John Voith, COO and Co-founder at Virtudent, on the current inconvenience of getting people to the dentist: "Of working-age adults, about half don’t use preventative benefits. Why aren’t they using it? 33% cite inconvenience. How do you actually help people who have a very busy lifestyle?"
  • Chien-Chi Huang, Founder and Executive Director at Asian Women for Health, on meeting people where they are: "Access issues are not just about data or coverage. [For example] Asian people have the lowest rates of usage with the highest rate of insurance coverage. There is a cultural-language barrier."
  • Lisa Wolff, Vice President at Health Resources in Action, on the importance of diversifying the medical profession: "Our medical professionals don’t always reflect the patients that they’re serving. Before medical and dental school, we need to try to broaden who is moving into the pipeline."
  • Anh Vu Sawyer, Executive Director at Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, on engaging directly with the community: "Work directly with community-based organizations...It's the most cost-effective and the return of that investment is enormous. It strengthens communities."

Thank you Delta Dental Institute for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
5 mins ago - World

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President Biden on Tuesday held his first call since taking office with Vladimir Putin, pressing the Russian president on the arrest of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and the Russia-linked hack on U.S. government agencies, AP reports.

The state of play: Biden also planned to raise arms control, bounties allegedly placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the war in Ukraine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who said the call took place while she was delivering a press briefing. Psaki added that a full readout will be provided later Tuesday.

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

Senate confirms Antony Blinken as secretary of state

Antony Blinken. Photo: Alex Edelman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 78-22 on Tuesday to confirm Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Why it matters: Blinken, a longtime adviser to President Biden, will lead the administration's diplomatic efforts to re-engage with the world after four years of former President Trump's "America first" policy.