In 2011, dental coverage for most Medicaid-insured adults was eliminated. The same year funding was also cut for Community Health Centers to treat uninsured. As a result, nearly 450,000 low-income adults, including many people with disabilities and 130,000 seniors, were left with only access to emergency dental care. The WSDA and the Coalition to Fund Dental Access are fighting to restore the dental safety net and ensure that the state's most vulnerable have access to comprehensive dental care.
Next week, more than 250 dentists and dental students, will meet in Olympia to advocate for solutions to strengthen the dental safety net and reducing barriers to dental care. Restoring comprehensive dental coverage for Medicaid-eligible adults will be a top priority.
Specifically, WSDA and the Coalition to Fund Access are asking the Legislature to do the following:
- Restore comprehensive dental coverage for Medicaid-eligible adults. Today, only 38,000 Medicaid-eligible adults have comprehensive coverage; leaving 450,000 adults without comprehensive dental care. Reinstating adult dental Medicaid coverage will cost the state $20 million per year; this amount can be paid for with the savings the state will receive from federal funding for Medicaid expansion.
- Include dental coverage in Medicaid expansion benefits. The Affordable Care Act provides states with a 100% match to expand Medicaid coverage to all adults who live at or below 138% of the federal poverty level. Adding dental coverage for this vulnerable population will not impact the state's operating fund in this biennium.
The Washington State Dental Association is a founding member of the Coalition to Fund Dental Access, a coalition created in 2007. Other coalition members include: University of Washington School of Dentistry, Solid Ground, Washington Association of Community & Migrant Health Centers, Poverty Action Network, Washington Dental Service Foundation, Children's Alliance, Washington State Dental Hygienists Association, and many other organizations.
Questions about dental Medicaid or dental access can be directed to Bracken Killpack, WSDA's Director of Government Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-448-3368.