Senate closing the gap by adding adult dental coverage to Maryland Medicaid

WORCESTER CO., Md. – Adult dental coverage is now on the table for Marylanders in the Medicaid program.

Senator Malcolm Augustine presented Senate Bill 150 to the Finance Committee on Tuesday. Officials say the bill will “mandate comprehensive adult dental coverage in Maryland’s Medicaid program, the health insurance program for the state’s poorest residents.” If the bill is passed, it will bring the state of Maryland in line with 47 other states that include adult dental coverage in their Medicaid coverage.

Senator Ben Cardin testified in agreeance with the policy and has already pushed for this coverage on a national level. On the national level, the bill is pending under the Biden administration Build Back Better initiative. Cardin says on a state level this bill will provide coverage for Marylanders in partnership with the federal government because they share the cost. Cardin emphasizes the importance of coverage.

“We all know that oral health is so instrumental to your overall health, we know that dental decay is a preventable disease but, you have to be able to afford to go to your dentist,” Cardin says.

Senator Cardin says there is a gap in coverage and this bill could be a way to change that. The bill will fill the gap for emergency care facilities, frontline workers and families. He says this will save money for the healthcare system and less room for emergency rooms, which is where most adults receive care that doesn’t have coverage.

The Maryland Senator says “I have excellent insurance coverage and no problems in having it paid for, if it was not covered by insurance I have the resources in order to do that, but for 750,000 Marylanders who qualify for Medicaid that’s not the case and we need to do better.” Senator Cardin remembers Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old boy, who died of an 80 dollar tooth extraction he did not receive in 2007. Driver could not get the extraction because he did not have coverage, even after his mom looked for help. After this incident, lawmakers did what was necessary to avoid this issue from happening in the future.

“We took steps in Maryland as a result of Deamonte Driver to provide pediatric dental care and that was the right thing to do,” Cardin says.

Pediatric coverage is now available under the Children’s Health Insurance Program and under the Affordable Care Act. Cardin says if parents have good health, their kids will too. He says this is a matter of equity in the community because you are more likely to see less coverage in communities of color.

“This is a matter of justice, its a matter of cost, a matter of doing what’s right and continuing Maryland’s leadership and I urge the committee to favorably consider Senator Augustine’s bill S150.” Cardin says.

Categories: Health, Local News, Maryland