“PolicyMap allows us to tell the story behind the data that can inspire action. We can advocate for change with real evidence, with data. Not just a perplexing story, but data that compels action.” – Deborah Jacobi, Policy Director
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Across the United States, dental care is costly and frequently not covered by Medicaid. Apple Tree Dental, based in Minnesota, is a multifaceted nonprofit. They offer affordable dental care to groups who lack access to necessary treatment through a “community collaborative practice” model of care delivery and advocate for legislation to improve access to oral health care. As a critical access dental provider, Apple Tree Dental wanted to understand more about barriers to care in the communities they serve, from physical accessibility and financial means, to transportation options and other factors.

Apple Tree Dental needed community-level data that would support their calls for legislative change. They sought access to local social determinants of health (SDOH) data and a tool that would help them visualize gaps in oral health care in Minnesota communities. With data on SDOH, the organization could both improve the services they provide, and draft more effective policies.  
Apple Tree Dental uses PolicyMap to display their organization’s impact while advocating for oral health equity and legislative change. Using the platform, the organization creates multilayer maps to highlight areas of need for individual legislative districts with actionable insights.

Apple Tree Dental first used PolicyMap to present at the 2023 Minnesota legislative session, delivering reports unique to each legislators’ district. Apple Tree Dental seamlessly uploaded and overlaid locations of their mobile care sites and other critical access providers with PolicyMap’s data layers and points. 

Apple Tree Dental’s advocacy work contributed to the successful improvement for Minnesota adults to receive Medicaid coverage for all medically necessary dental care. Previously, these benefits were only guaranteed for publicly insured children. In addition, Apple Tree Dental was able to champion funding for a 2.5 million infrastructure grant to increase the capacity of critical access dental providers. 

Apple Tree Dental anticipates continued use of PolicyMap to inspire more action in 2024. By incorporating SDOH data, custom datasets, and service utilization, their advocacy will include a clearer picture and more powerful message to legislators.

[Image description: Apple Tree Dental operates from nine Centers for Dental Health throughout the state of Minnesota and collaborates with 150 Community Partners to deliver oral health services. The ability to visualize service reach by legislative district amplifies their voice to advocate for better outcomes for the populations served.]