CDHP: U.S. should rethink tax credits for pediatric dental benefits

The Children's Dental Health Project (CDHP) and the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families -- along with 44 other organizations, including the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry -- are urging federal officials to reconsider the interpretation of the final rule on health insurance premium tax credits.

In a letter sent May 9 to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, the organizations seek clarification that premium tax credits, which will assist families with incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty level in purchasing health coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), be calculated to include the cost of standalone pediatric dental coverage.

"As the rule is currently being interpreted, a family could end up being financially penalized for purchasing standalone pediatric dental benefits because the [Internal Revenue Service] now says they won't get the full premium tax credit that Congress intended them to have," stated Patrice Pascual, executive director of the CDHP, in a press release.

While the final rule is ambiguous, current IRS interpretation would allow a family's premium tax credit amount to be calculated without regard to the cost of standalone dental benefits, leaving many families with insufficient subsidies. Such a policy would create a significant financial disincentive for families to purchase pediatric dental coverage, according to the CDHP.

CDHP has estimated that as many as 5 million more children could receive dental coverage under the ACA; this number could shrink if the policy is allowed to stand, the organization noted.

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