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Julie Bowman, Chief Nursing Officer at the Phoenix Children's Hospital, sits at the Axios table between Sam Baker, left, and Libby McDannell. Photo: Mindy DeLuca for Axios

This Wednesday, Axios' Sam Baker hosted an Expert Voices Live discussion in Phoenix, digging into the state of health care access and affordability in Arizona.

Local leaders, policymakers, and advocates discussed solutions to challenges in health care policy and providing equitable, high-quality care.

The need for data in policymaking
Wendy Armendariz, Chief Executive Officer at Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health, in conversation at the Axios roundtable. Photo: Mindy DeLuca for Axios

As health providers become increasingly dependent on data, the importance of accurate and accessible information is paramount in providing effective care.

  • Kevin Earle, Executive Director of the Arizona Dental Association: "[There is] no comprehensive oral health surveillance system in Arizona and getting data is very challenging. [To make more effective programs] we need to get the data, make the connection between oral health and systemic health; it's going to take a multi-pronged approach."
Access across communities
Linda Ross, Chief Executive Officer of Circle the City, discusses health care access for the homeless. Photo: Mindy DeLuca for Axios

A consistent theme was the importance of creating policy that could serve all constituents, from rural to urban areas and other uniquely vulnerable communities. Challenges presented by the complexities of the current systems and addressing the needs of all patients featured prominently in the conversation.

  • Linda Ross, Chief Executive Officer of Circle the City, on reaching vulnerable groups to provide medical care: "Getting care to the homeless population is a problem; we have to go to the homeless communities to provide them care."
  • Wendy Armendariz, Chief Executive Officer at Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health, on how oral health tends to fall by the wayside for children: "the amount of case management versus the children that follow up for care is very small; oral health is second or third on family lists; it’s not a priority."
  • Kevin Earle, Executive Director of the Arizona Dental Association, shared "The Navajo community has the highest level of oral decay in the country...Education is an opportunity to better control decay. [We need people] who are from these communities, working with these communities to understand the importance of oral health and be embedded in all their health activities."
Oral health and comprehensive care
Regina Cobb, State Representative for District 5 at the Arizona House of Representatives discusses educating policymakers on the importance of oral health. Photo: Mindy DeLuca for Axios

How to measure the impact of effective care was a significant topic of conversation, as well as the connection between oral health and overall well-being.

  • Julia Wacloff, Chief of the Office of Oral Health at the Arizona Department of Health Services, discussed collaboration across different sectors to create effective health policy in Arizona: "We brought many different partners to the table to identify priorities...[It was important] to bring grassroots organizations to the table. It wasn't going to be just one organization."
  • Regina Cobb, State Representative for District 5 at the Arizona House of Representatives, on how to make changes at the policy level: "One of the things we’ve focused on [in policy] is comprehensive care, oral care as integrated into whole body care. [To make lasting change] we need to educate policymakers to show them how important integrated care is."

Thank you Delta Dental Institute for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated 15 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

17 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.