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Physicians Join the Effort to Broaden Access to Dental Benefits for Adults Covered by Public Insurance

At its annual meeting, the American Medical Association (AMA) approved new policies to enhance healthcare coverage for Americans covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program focusing on critical areas like hearing, vision, and dental services. These measures aim to reduce out-of-pocket costs and improve access to essential care, aligning with the AMA’s commitment to public health advocacy.

At the annual meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates, physician and medical student leaders approved policies aimed at expanding healthcare coverage for patients insured by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. A significant focus was placed on enhancing dental services, aligning with the AMA’s commitment to improving public health and addressing critical gaps in care.

Medicaid currently does not mandate adult dental coverage, resulting in inconsistent access across states. Nineteen states provide comprehensive dental services, while 31 offer only limited or emergency coverage. This inconsistency leads to high out-of-pocket costs, causing many patients with Medicaid coverage to forego necessary dental care. Approximately 18% of patients covered by Medicaid who are younger than 65 report unmet dental needs due to cost, a rate double that of privately insured patients. This gap in dental care access contributes to an estimated 2 million dental-related emergency department visits annually, costing $2 billion.

To address this issue, the AMA’s revised policy supports collaboration with the American Dental Association and other national organizations to improve dental care access for patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. By working together, these organizations aim to ensure comprehensive dental coverage, reducing the financial burden on patients and enhancing overall oral health outcomes.

Furthermore, the AMA’s new policies advocate for expanding Medicaid coverage to include hearing and vision services, recognizing the interconnected nature of comprehensive health care. The AMA will work with state medical associations to support coverage for routine vision exams, visual aids, hearing exams, hearing aids, and related services. Click here to read more.

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