Study examines 7 states’ decision to increase coverage for Medicaid adult dental benefits

The National Academy for State Health Policy's studies across seven states examine why each of the states has recently decided to add, enhance, or reinstate their Medicaid adult dental benefits.

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The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) recently conducted studies across seven states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington) on the issue of dental Medicaid—each of the seven states has taken recent action on adding, enhancing, or reinstating Medicaid dental benefits for adults. The study examined why each state chose to implement this coverage, as well as how they are implementing it. Some of the key findings include:

· “There is growing recognition of the importance of oral health as it relates to overall health—including pregnancy, avoidable emergency room utilization, and chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease—as well as employability. These data points, as well as personal experiences with individuals who cannot access routine dental care, resonated with key state decision-makers.”
· “In many states, enhancements are progressing incrementally. In some states the benefit is being extended only to certain groups of enrollees such as pregnant women or the Medicaid expansion population. In other states the benefit is capped with a dollar limit.”
· “States’ decisions on adult dental coverage were affected by their broader work on implementing health reform. Enhanced federal funding through the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion motivated action in several states. Some states are also beginning to consider how dental services may fit into payment and delivery system reform efforts such as the State Innovation Models Initiative.”

Read the full study here.

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