Study to focus on the effects of Va.’s Medicaid expansion

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The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Dentistry has received a nearly $1 million grant to study how the state’s expansion of Medicaid, which made all adults eligible for dental coverage, may reduce racial and ethnic discrepancies.

The project aims to offer data for enhancing strategies in both existing and new oral health policies throughout Virginia. It encompasses implementing system-level changes to reduce disparities and maximize oral health benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries, according to a press release dated January 22 from VCU.

Shillpa Naavaal, MPH, associate professor at the VCU School of Dentistry and lead researcher, said the study will be the first comprehensive analysis that uses rich administrative claims data and rigorous analytic and econometric models to examine the demand for dental services among adults following the state’s changes to Medicaid, how it has affected the use of dental care in hospital emergency rooms, as well as indirect effects it has had on pediatric dental visits.  

The U.S. National Institutes of Health is funding the five-year grant.   

“The findings will provide a clear understanding of how dental benefit uptake has been following the policy,” Naavaal said in the release. “The work following this research will help develop specific programs and evaluate various health care delivery models to improve oral health among Medicaid members.” 

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