ADA supports legislation expanding Medicaid oral health coverage for former foster youth

Washington — The ADA is supporting legislation to expand Medicaid oral health coverage by increasing the eligibility age from 21 to 25 for former youth who are eligible for the foster youth Medicaid pathway.

In a May 27 letter to Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, D.M.D., thanked the lawmaker for introducing HR 1794, the Foster Youth Dental Act.

In addition to increasing the eligibility age, the Foster Youth Dental Act would also help improve access by providing enhanced reimbursement for dentists and states would be required to establish outreach programs for dentists, as well as programs to increase foster youth enrollment. It would also ensure that foster youth who move between states do not lose their coverage.

“As an organization dedicated to improving the oral health of the public, the ADA agrees on the importance of ensuring that this underserved population receives quality and affordable dental care,” Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin wrote.

“While foster youth have coverage under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment benefit through age 21, they often lose coverage after that because of the limited Medicaid oral health benefits most states offer to adults. And although under the Affordable Care Act, young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, foster youth do not have that option. Additionally, foster youth often move from home to home and location to location, which can leave them without a permanent source of dental care (a dental home), which is critical for good oral health care,” the letter said.

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