Utah considers restoring dental Medicaid benefits for disabled adults

The Utah House of Representatives is considering a bill that would restore dental benefits to about 34,500 disabled Medicaid patients after the bill passed the state Senate.

The bill, SB 39, directs the Department of Health to seek federal waivers authorizing the Medicaid program to provide dental services to only blind or disabled adults age 18 and older who are already eligible for Medicaid. If the waivers are granted, dental services would begin no later than January 1, 2017.

In Salt Lake County, dental students at the University of Utah School of Dentistry would treat the patients. The bill also requires the dental school to annually transfer funds to the Medicaid program to cover the nonfederal share of the cost of providing dental services through the school. In other areas, dental services will be provided through managed care or other arrangements, according to the bill.

The program would cost about $1.4 million annually, according to news reports. The state discontinued dental benefits to Medicaid patients in 2009.

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