FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2021
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán announced new legislation to extend comprehensive dental health benefits to tens of millions of low-income Americans, the Medicaid Dental Benefit Act.
“Dental care should not be a luxury. Adding mandatory adult dental coverage to Medicaid will make it accessible for millions of low-income individuals across the country and allow them to get the comprehensive care they require,” Congresswoman Barragán said. “In my district, one of the poorest in California, this legislation will improve the dental health of hundreds of thousands of people on Medicaid.”
Currently, states have flexibility to determine what dental benefits are provided to adult Medicaid enrollees. While most states provide at least emergency dental services for adults, less than half of the states currently provide comprehensive dental care. There are no minimum requirements for adult dental coverage under Medicaid.
Poor oral health is connected to chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Oral health is also directly related to COVID-19 risk, as poor oral health puts people at a higher risk of contracting and dying from the virus.
The Medicaid Dental Benefit Act would require state Medicaid programs to provide mandatory adult dental and oral health services.
At a minimum, this bill would require state Medicaid programs provide coverage to prevent and treat disease, promote oral health, restore oral structures to health and function, reduce pain, and treat emergency conditions. This coverage would include:
- routine diagnostic and preventive care including but not limited to dental cleanings, exams, prophylaxis, fluoride treatments, X-rays, and other necessary services;
- basic dental services such as fillings and extractions and major dental services such as root canals, crowns, restorations, and both complete and partial dentures including adjustments, repairs, and relines;
- emergency dental care;
- Temporomandibular (TMD) and orofacial pain disorder treatment;
- other necessary services related to dental and oral health (as defined by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.)
On introducing the Medicaid Dental Benefit Act, Congresswoman Barragán was joined by the following original cosponsors: Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.), Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.), Donald M. Payne (N.J.), Darren Soto (Fla.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington. She serves as chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security.