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Medicaid Dental Benefits Legislation Reintroduced

With the goal of expanding Medicaid to include coverage for adult dental services, the Medicaid Dental Benefits Act has been reintroduced in both chambers of Congress. The 2023 iteration of the bills, H.R. 1342 and S. 570, seeks to replace the existing state-determined benefit with comprehensive, federally mandated oral healthcare coverage for all Medicaid-eligible adults.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-CA) and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the bills would require each state to provide benefits to the nearly 48 million adults on Medicaid. Covered services would include preventive, maintenance and restorative care, as well as more involved treatment, including endodontic procedures, dentures, temporomandibular disorder therapy, emergency care, and other services that promote or restore oral health.

At presstime, the bills had been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate’s Finance Committee. While earlier versions of the legislation have failed to pass, sceptics note that even if successful, the bills may not provide the intended access to oral care until reimbursement rates are raised to levels that would encourage more dental clinics to accept Medicaid patients.

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