Mo. adult Medicaid dental services may receive funding

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced on January 5 that an estimated $35 million to be collected from delinquent taxpayers in the state will pay for the expansion of dental care to almost 300,000 low-income residents in 2016.

Missouri officials are expected to submit plans to expand adult coverage to include "preventive services, restorative services, periodontal treatment, oral surgery, extractions, radiographs, pain evaluation and relief, infection control, and general anesthesia," according to a press release. Currently, coverage for adults with Medicaid is limited to "trauma of the mouth, jaw, or teeth as a result of injury or medical condition."

In 2005, state Republicans cut adult dental benefits from Medicaid because of budget shortages. However, they supported restoring dental coverage in 2014 as a way to promote cost-effective preventive care and oral health. But funding was blocked because of a budget dispute over tax breaks for certain industries and lower-than-anticipated state revenues.

The new funding will also provide a 1% rate increase for healthcare providers who care for Medicaid beneficiaries, including the Department of Social Services (DSS) - MO HealthNet Dental services for Medicaid-eligible children, pregnant women, blind persons, and nursing facility residents.

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