Start: September 2016

Funder: DentaQuest Foundation

Low-income Americans — more than 73 million of whom are served by Medicaid — face elevated risks for oral disease, including a daunting set of obstacles to oral health care. In most states, Medicaid programs and public health departments share responsibility for addressing the oral health needs of low-income residents, yet each entity typically has its own dental director — often operating in silos. To achieve broad and optimal improvements in oral health, Medicaid dental program directors and state oral health program directors need to work together to transform the oral health care system.

"Collaboration between Medicaid dental and state oral health directors can be the ‘missing link’ to achieving broad improvements in oral health policy and delivery."The Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) created the State Oral Health Leadership Institute (SOHLI) to bring together state Medicaid dental program directors and state oral health program directors to advance shared goals. SOHLI is a professional development program that provides these individuals — working in collaboration — with the necessary leadership skills and policy knowledge to improve access to dental services and oral health outcomes for low-income children and adults.

Five teams, from four states and the District of Columbia, were competitively selected for the first cohort of SOHLI Fellows, which kicked off in January 2017 and will conclude in December 2017:


State Dental Director, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Timothy Kling, MD, FACOG
Associate Medical Director, Missouri Department of Social Services

North Carolina

Mark W. Casey, DDS, MPH
Dental Director, Department of Health and Human Services
Sarah Tomlinson, DDS
Dental Director and Chief, Department of Health and Human Services

North Dakota

Jodi Hulm
Administrator, Health Tracks and Healthy Steps, Department of Human Services
Kimberlie Yineman
Oral Health Program Director, Department of Health


Bruce W. Austin, DMD
Statewide Dental Director, Oregon Health Authority
Kellie M. Skenandore
Dental Program Manager, Operations and Policy Analyst-Medicaid Managed Care, Oregon Health Authority

Washington, D.C.

Pierre M. Cartier, DMD, MPH
Program Manager, DC Dept. of Health, Oral Health Program (Jan.–Jun. 2017)

Lauren Ratner, MPH, MSW
Health Care Access Bureau Chief, Community Health Administration, DC Dept. of Health (Jul.–Dec. 2017)
Antonio Lacey, DDS
Program Analyst, District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance

These five teams will participate in a program curriculum that addresses oral health policy at both the federal and state levels with a focus on:

  • Fundamentals of Medicaid dental benefit design, financing, and service delivery models; funding models for public health strategies related to oral health improvement; and approaches to address the social determinants of oral health.
  • Leadership and organizational skills necessary to lead complex change within the context of state governments.
  • A joint transformation project, providing a foundation for participants to apply newly acquired leadership and policy skills to improve the oral health of residents.

A national advisory group — that includes leadership from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors — will provide additional guidance throughout the program.

SOHLI is part of CHCS’ leadership and capacity building programs, a unique series of professional development programs supporting state Medicaid directors and their management teams in optimizing the performance of publicly financed care.