While comprehensive dental coverage is a required benefit for children served by Medicaid, the same is not true for adults. Dental benefits are optional for adults enrolled in Medicaid, and dental coverage is often among the first programs to be trimmed in tight fiscal times — most recently, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) made such a proposal. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia currently offer some dental benefit to Medicaid-enrolled adults, but only 32 cover services beyond emergency care, and even fewer, 15, offer a comprehensive benefit.
As many states expand Medicaid coverage for adults through the Affordable Care Act, there are new opportunities to increase much‐needed dental coverage in Medicaid and avoid the dangerous and costly consequences of untreated dental disease.
This Health Affairs GrantWatch blog post, authored by CHCS senior program officer, Stacey Chazin, explores the issues related to oral health care coverage and access for low-income adults, and highlights the experiences of Colorado and Kentucky — shared in a recent webinar — in implementing dental benefits for Medicaid-enrolled adults.