ADA: Contact Congress to improve adult access to Medicaid dental benefits

ADA also asks Congress to reduce administrative burdens for Medicaid dentists

The ADA sent out an action alert April 25 asking members to request Congress’s support of efforts to improve adult access to Medicaid dental benefits.

Members of the House of Representatives are being asked to cosponsor HR 1342, the Medicaid Dental Benefit Act of 2023, and HR 1422, the Strengthening Medicaid Incentives for Licensees Enrolled in Dental (SMILED) Act. HR 1342 would make comprehensive dental care a mandatory component of Medicaid coverage for adults in every state, and HR 1422 would reduce the administrative burdens for dentists in Medicaid, including audits and credentialing.

Senators are being asked to cosponsor S 570, the Medicaid Dental Benefit Act of 2023.

Only about half of states provide comprehensive adult dental coverage to their Medicaid enrollees, according to the alert.

“As you know, oral health is essential to overall health and well-being,” according to the alert, signed by Mike Graham, ADA senior vice president, Government and Public Affairs. “However, many adults who use Medicaid benefits find that there is little, if any, coverage for dental care, and they are unable to afford basic dental care on their own. Without a federal requirement, and given the competing priorities for state budgets, the optional adult dental benefit is often not provided by states or is very limited.”

The alert also said that ensuring that states provide comprehensive dental services for adult Medicaid beneficiaries is a sound economic investment.

Research from the ADA Health Policy Institute shows that across the states that currently do not provide comprehensive dental coverage, the net cost of providing extensive adult dental benefits is $836 million per year. This includes an estimated $1.1 billion per year in dental care costs and $273 million per year in medical care savings.

The Association is also asking Congress to remove barriers for dentists who want to participate in the Medicaid program. The SMILED Act would make it easier for dentists to become credentialed Medicaid providers and would help ensure fair Medicaid audits performed by a dentist from the same specialty and based on guidelines from the ADA and other dental organizations.

The alert provides a sample letter for both a Senator and Representative that dentists can send to Capitol Hill by visiting the ADA's Help Us Improve Access to Medicaid Dental Benefits page.

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