ADA commends introduction of Medicaid Dental Benefits Act of 2023

Bill would make dental Medicaid coverage for adults mandatory in every state

The ADA commended Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., for introducing legislation that would make comprehensive dental care a mandatory component of Medicaid coverage for adults in every state.

In a March 17 letter , ADA President George R. Shepley, D.D.S., and Executive Director Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., thanked Sen. Cardin for introducing S. 570, the Medicaid Dental Benefits Act of 2023, saying that “Less than half of the states provide ‘extensive’ dental coverage for adults in their Medicaid programs” and “The others offer limited benefits, emergency-only coverage, or nothing at all for adults.”

Drs. Shepley and Cohlmia noted in the letter that “we must not forget the important lessons COVID-19 has taught us about our health system. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the inadequacies within our social safety net programs, most starkly in oral health care. During the pandemic, nearly half of U.S. adults reported delaying dental care . And unfortunately, this problem has only grown due to the large increases in Medicaid enrollment since the start of the pandemic.”

The letter also stated that many adults who rely on Medicaid benefits have little, if any coverage for dental care and are unable to afford basic dental care on theirown. “This lack of state coverage is particularly problematic because the millions of adults who rely on Medicaid are the least likely to access dental care (including basic preventive services), face the biggest cost barriers to dental care, and are more likely than their higher income counterparts to experience dental pain, report poor mouth health, and find their lives to be less satisfying due to their poor oral health.”

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