NEW Scholarship Opportunity Announced for Aspiring Dental Therapists in Michigan


DT Scholarship Webpage

LANSING, Mich.— Qualified candidates interested in pursuing education in dental therapy can now apply for a unique scholarship opportunity thanks to the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA), the Delta Dental Foundation (DDF) and the Michigan Health Endowment Fund (Health Fund).

Dental therapy is a long-awaited oral health profession recently added to Michigan’s oral health workforce to improve access to care within dentist shortage areas. Dental therapists are licensed providers that work under the remote supervision of a dentist to provide services such oral health assessments, cleanings, basic restorations and some extractions.

MPCA chief executive officer Phillip Bergquist said: “Dental therapists will improve health centers’ ability to carry out their missions to improve access to care for Michigan’s most vulnerable populations.

“The MPCA Dental Therapy Scholarship program will support a new oral health career option for individuals who are driven to serve communities in dental health professional shortage areas,” he stated. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support aspiring Michigan dental therapists through the scholarship program.”

“No Michigan college or university has an accredited dental therapy program yet,” added Holli Seabury, EdD, executive director of the DDF. “Until that happens, if we want dental therapy to succeed in Michigan, it’s on us to make it happen.”

The MPCA Dental Therapy Scholarship program will support the educational journeys of dental therapy students who plan to practice in Michigan upon graduation. These students will be recognized as trailblazers for Michigan’s dental therapy profession, and they will usher in a new model of accessible, high-quality care for systemically disadvantaged communities.

“Good oral health starts at home, and for the Health Fund that means strengthening the workforce in our own backyard,” says Laurie Solotorow, director of Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles, at the Health Fund. “We’re proud to partner with the Delta Dental Foundation and MPCA to invest in dental therapists who want to serve their own communities and provide access to oral healthcare in underserved areas of the state.”

Qualified candidates may apply for up to $15,000 for each semester they are enrolled in a U.S. dental therapy program and must practice in Michigan for up to 36 months upon graduation. Scholarship applications will open on April 17 and close on May 12, 2023.

For complete eligibility requirements and scholarship application, please visit the MPCA Dental Therapy Scholarship program webpage for more information.

MPCA advocates to influence and advance health policy in Lansing and Washington, D.C., foster collaboration among our 44 health centers and with external partners, and support health centers in the continuous pursuit of high-quality, patient-centered services. As a fierce voice for members, our vision is equitable and just healthcare for all. Visit us online for more information.

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund’s mission is to improve the health of Michigan residents, with special emphasis on the health and wellness of children and seniors, while reducing the cost of health care. Please visit the Health Fund website for more information.

The Delta Dental Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization established in 1980, which serves as the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and North Carolina. DDF is dedicated to developing and enhancing partnerships and programs to improve oral and overall health and health equity. For more information, visit

March Monthly E-Update Newsletter Released

LANSING–The MPCA’s monthly newsletter for March has been released.

This month’s edition includes updated information on the Public Health Emergency, National Kidney Month with the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, Workforce update, emergency preparedness tip (floods) of the month, and much, much more.

See the latest version of the newsletter here. You can also view past newsletters here.

You can sign up for our newsletter as well as other types of communications tailored to your interest here.


February Monthly E-Update Newsletter Released

LANSING–The MPCA’s monthly newsletter for February has published this week.

This month’s edition includes another update on Public Health Emergency, Maternal Health Summit registration information, MDHHS and HRSA notices, updates on Credentialing Pilot Workgroup, Oral Health and Workforce, and much more.

See the latest version of the newsletter here. You can also view past newsletters here.

You can sign up for our newsletter as well as other types of communications tailored to your interest here.


AmeriCorps HealthCorps Needs You!

LANSING–The MPCA AmeriCorps HealthCorps program is seeking career-minded individuals with a passion for community and helping others, making a difference in communities throughout the state of Michigan.

Interested? Please visit the program’s website for more information. Register at MyAmeriCorps and apply today! Download our flyer!!

HealthCorps members will receive training and certification as Navigators with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as training and certification as a community health worker.

We have several health center locations in need of members, including:

  • Northwest Michigan Health Services, Inc. (Traverse City)
  • Covered Bridge Healthcare of St. Joseph County (Centreville)
  • MidMichigan Community Health Services (Houghton Lake)
  • Great Lakes Bay Health Center  (Saginaw)
  • Kalamazoo Family Health Center (Kalamazoo)
  • Catherines Health Center (Grand Rapids)

Below are the names and locations of the service sites in the Detroit area:

  • Central City Integrated Health – 10 Peterboro, Detroit, 48201 (located in the midtown area of the city)
  • The Wellness Plan Health Center – 1) 46156 Woodward Ave., Pontiac, 48342 and 2) 2888 West Grand Boulevard, Ste. 305, Detroit, 48202

MPCA/UHC Pen Joint Op-Ed: Breast Cancer Screenings Matter

October has been designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And while this is an important opportunity to remind people of the need to safeguard their health, the reality is that breast cancer outcomes will only improve by providing additional education and increased access to high-quality preventive health care including cancer screenings year-round.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 32% of individuals delayed preventive visits.[1] While many individuals are getting back to the doctor, some Michiganders are still delayed on their regular appointments.

Importance of Routine Care

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers impacting American women accounting for 30% of cancer diagnoses each year. In 2022, 8,900 new breast cancer cases will have been diagnosed in Michigan.[2]

Routine care remains foundational for better health. By meeting with a doctor regularly, there’s a greater chance that they will be able to help with early diagnosis of conditions, like breast cancer, resulting in better outcomes and less intensive treatment.

Why Screenings Matter

Roughly half of all women who get screening mammograms will have a false positive resultin a 10-year period. That doesn’t mean you should skip the test. Most breast cancer is detected by mammogram before symptoms appear, which is why mammography is so important.

The test may detect breast irregularities that can be further examined with techniques, such as a biopsy, to help determine a cancer diagnosis. Your breast density may also inform the types of screening best for you. Talk with your doctor to determine what kind of screening plan works best for you given your health, age, and family history of breast cancer.

Advancements In Healthcare

As healthcare evolves, more advancements have been made to help detect breast cancer early, including genetic testing. It’s important to know that both women and men can be diagnosed with breast cancer.

In 2020, the United Health Foundation committed $2.5 million to the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) to support increased breast cancer screening and genetic testing for high-risk women, men, and their families. The partnership established a breast cancer genetic testing and screening pilot program at seven Michigan community health centers to increase patient education and testing rates, and enhance transitions of care through improved technology, community partnerships and data analysis

Partners in Care

Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) serve 1 in 12 people in the United States providing affordable and accessible care. Community health centers are meeting an increased demand for direct care and treatment, while expanding the types of services available to patients, including medical, dental, behavioral health, and vision services. As part of this partnership with the United Health Foundation, seven FQHCs including Cherry Health, Center for Family Health, Catherine’s Health Center, Community Health and Social Services Center, East Jordan Family Health Center, Honor Community Health, and Western Wayne Family Health Centers, have been able to expand their services. As a result, nearly 13,000 patients ages 40-75 received mammogram screenings and 439 patients were referred to a genetic counselor for genetic testing recommendations.

As we all strive to get back to normal following the many significant impacts and disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage you to make your preventive health a priority. If you haven’t had a mammogram in the past year, schedule yours today.

Authors: Dr. Patricia De Loof, Chief Medical Officer, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Michigan; Jackie Demull, Women’s Cancer Screening Program Coordinator, Cherry Health Center for Family Health

November Newsletter Published

LANSING–The Michigan Primary Care Association’s E-Update newsletter for November 2022 is available.

Please check out the November edition which includes the following highlights: Public Health Emergency (PHE) preparation; updates on integrated behavioral health, Workforce, emergency preparedness and oral health; Fall Clinical Conference in Review; Misty Davis op-ed publication in The Detroit News; HRSA Health Center Program bulletin; and much more.

The November 2022 newsletter is available at this link.

Click here to sign up for our mailing list so that you can stay current with monthly news and updates.

You can also read about past available issues here.

MPCA’s Misty Davis Pens Op-Ed for Detroit News Publication

Dental therapists broaden access to care l by Misty Davis

If you’ve ever had a toothache, you know how hard it can be to eat, sleep, work or go to school until you’ve received dental care.

For many Michiganians, dental care is inaccessible, as 1.5 million residents live in areas with a shortage of dentists. Even in areas that have enough dentists, patients may struggle to find one who accepts their insurance.

Due to intense competition for dental staff, which has been magnified by the exodus of providers that persists in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, our dental clinics are overwhelmed and understaffed. Many clinics report months-long wait lists for appointments and have patients driving hours to access oral health care.

Now the good news: Michigan has authorized a new type of dental provider, the dental therapist.

While this profession may be unfamiliar to many, it has the potential to play a significant role in reducing barriers to oral health care for those who need it the most.

Dental therapists are licensed oral health professionals who work under the supervision of dentists to provide commonly needed care like exams, cleanings, sealants and fillings. They can work remotely, bringing care directly to people where they are, whether that’s in schools, hospitals, nursing homes or rural communities.

The next step to getting dental therapists into Michigan’s community health centers and dental offices is to implement education programs. Several colleges and universities in our state are excited about developing education programs. But with their limited budgets already stretched by inflation, they could use some support with start-up costs.

Costs involved with launching a dental therapy program may include structural changes to on- campus clinics, establishing partnerships with community health centers and expanding their capacity to precept students, costs associated with accreditation, and supporting the establishment of program coordinators, directors and educators.

Meanwhile, a new federal report has concluded that dental therapy provides “clear benefits” to communities, and is calling on Congress and the Biden administration to implement policies that will help grow dental therapy in Michigan and nationwide.

The report found that adding dental therapists to dental teams resulted in more people getting care and reduced wait and travel times for appointments, and resulted in a workforce more representative of the community it serves. It recommends the federal government support education programs for dental therapists both by dedicating funding specifically to them and by making dental therapy education programs eligible for existing oral health workforce programs. The report also encourages federal policymakers to support dental therapists through scholarships and loan repayment programs.

By implementing these recommendations, federal policymakers could help states like Michigan grow their oral health workforces, creating both better access to care for patients and well-paying jobs for new providers within underserved communities.

Another opportunity in front of Congress to support Michigan’s oral health workforce pipeline are the spending bills before the House and Senate that would remove the long-standing prohibition on a dental workforce program that was written into the Affordable Care Act.

This program would award 15 grants of at least $4 million to support the development of new provider types such as dental therapists. Since the program was passed, special interest groups have lobbied to block the funding, effectively preventing it from reaching colleges and universities.

Michigan is one of 11 states with dental therapy legislation but no dental therapy education programs. Removing this funding block would allow federal dollars to flow into colleges and universities interested in developing dental therapy programs in Michigan and beyond, and full implementation of the profession could finally be realized in dental therapy states.

–Misty Davis, a registered dental hygienist, is the oral health program manager at the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA).

E-Update October Newsletter

LANSING–The Michigan Primary Care Association 2022 October E-Update newsletter is available.

Please check out the October 2022 edition which includes the following highlights: video message from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; MPCA Annual Conference photos-in-review; Public Health Emergency (PHE) preparation; Meet the MPCA Administrative Services Team; updates in Workforce, emergency preparedness and oral health; and much more.

The October 2022 newsletter is available at this link.

Click here to sign up for our mailing list so that you can stay current with monthly news and updates.

You can also read about past available issues here.

September Newsletter Published

LANSING–The Michigan Primary Care Association has published the 2022 September E-Update  newsletter to nearly 2,700 subscriber inboxes.

Please check out the September 2022 edition which includes the following highlights: MPCA Annual Conference details; cost-efficiency study conducted by MSU Institute for Health Policy; Meet the MPCA Member Services Team; Workforce update; and much more.

The September 2022 newsletter is available at this link.

Click here to sign up for our mailing list so that you can stay current with monthly news and updates.

You can also read about past available issues here.

MPCA, MSU Institute for Health Policy Team Up for Cost-Efficiency Study

LANSING—Michigan community health centers, also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers and FQHC Look-Alikes, are 13 percent more cost efficient at providing services to adult Medicaid beneficiaries than non-FQHC providers, according to an evaluation of Medicaid managed care and fee-for-service claims between 2017 and 2019. Executive Summary I Full Report

The Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) commissioned the Institute for Health Policy (IHP) at Michigan State University to conduct the evaluation. Read the full study here.

The results–a follow-up to a similar study by IHP written eight years ago–are presented in the report “An Evaluation of the Cost Effectiveness of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and FQHC ‘Look Alikes’ Operating in Michigan.”

Health Centers Provide Cost Effective CareThe report demonstrates that Michigan’s health centers save the state of Michigan $51 per member per month (up from $12 in 2014), or $612 per beneficiary per year (up from $144 in 2014) in Medicaid expenditures. Based on the number of adult Medicaid patients Michigan FQHCs serve, health centers generate an estimated savings of $123.2 million per year to the Michigan Medicaid program.

“This study is valuable as it helps us to understand the impact Michigan community health centers have on the health and well-being of Michiganders, as well as the economic impact on the state’s health care system,” said MPCA CEO Phillip Bergquist.

Generally, the lower costs of health center services are due to reduced utilization of more expensive Medicaid services, such as inpatient hospital services. In fact, the study revealed that average hospital in-patient stays for FQHCs were 9.42 days compared to 13.2 for non-FQHC patients. This is likely attributable to health center patients using their local health center as their chief source of primary and preventive care.

IHP’s evaluation compares the utilization of Medicaid services, as well as the total cost of services, by adult (18-64 years) Michigan Medicaid beneficiaries who received primary health care services at a Michigan health center during the two-year study period with those served by non-FQHCs.

FQHC patients are those that have received at least two qualifying primary care visits at a Michigan health center during the study period. Non-FQHC patients are those that did not receive at least two primary care visits at a Michigan health center during the study period.

In the Medicaid and Healthy Michigan Plan programs, health centers are paid through a Prospective Payment System (PPS) which uses a single bundled payment to reimburse multiple services provided in the same patient encounter. (Health centers’ PPS payment rates were included in calculating health center costs of care in this study.) The PPS was established by federal law in 2001 to ensure health centers receive payment for the comprehensive nature of their services and to prevent the small amount of federal grant funding received by most health centers to care for the uninsured from being diverted to cover shortfalls in Medicaid reimbursement.

However, over the last two decades, Medicaid PPS payment rates have not kept pace with the cost of delivering high-quality care. In fact, research completed by Health Management Associates in 2021 indicates that, on average, Michigan health centers are paid $61.00 less per Medicaid patient encounter than the cost of delivering those services. Health centers continued cost-effectiveness and significant annual savings generated for the Medicaid program support making future investments to ensure payment to health centers is sufficient and innovative payment reform can be pursued.

Community health center services are available to everyone, regardless of insurance status or income level. The study further demonstrates that when health centers are adequately reimbursed for providing Medicaid services, funding is available to help cover the costs of caring for the uninsured.

Today, 40 community health centers and four Native American health service providers provide quality, affordable, comprehensive health care to more than 720,000 Michiganders through 370 delivery sites in rural and urban communities across Michigan.


CONTACTS: Tom Kochheiser 517.230.9829; Patrick Stewart 517.827.0884