Idaho considers restoring adult dental Medicaid

Idaho is considering restoring adult dental coverage in its Medicaid program after emergency room costs more than doubled following budget cuts and the elimination of nonemergency dental coverage.

After the program was cut in 2011, dental-related emergency room services increased from $30,000 a month in 2011 to $65,000 a month, according to a story.

In one case, sepsis caused by an abscessed tooth cost the Medicaid program $300,000 in medical costs.

Lawmakers had hoped to save $1.7 million by cutting dental coverage for 42,000 adults.

For 2015, lawmakers have submitted a budget request that includes restoring the service for 27,000 adults who now would be eligible.

Officials have requested $1.4 million in state general funds next year to restore the coverage, which would bring in $3.5 million in federal matching funds; the total cost of the program is $4.9 million.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter didn't recommend the funding, but he did support restoring the benefit by drawing on savings from a renegotiation of the state's Medicaid dental services contract to restore the coverage, according to the story.

A $5 million savings from the contract renegotiation should cover the cost, mainly because of decreased utilization of services.

Lawmakers are expected to approve the recommendation.

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