A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

What Do You Think? Let's Restore MassHealth Adult Dental Coverage

What Do You Think? Let's Restore MassHealth Adult Dental Coverage

May 4, 2005

In early 2003, with the state in the midst of a fiscal crisis, dental services for MassHealth adults were eliminated, except when teeth become so rotten, they need to be pulled. After that, tough luck because the state also stopped paying for dentures. About 550,000 adults -- 180,000 of them poor seniors -- are affected. The cost to restore coverage -- about $58 million ($29 million of which would be federally reimbursed). With state revenues now about $1 billion over estimate, we can think of three good reasons to restore coverage:

First, poor adults are experiencing incredible suffering and pain because they can't obtain medically needed services. Second, the state is wasting millions providing acute medical services that are preventable with adequate dental care. (One Holyoke man spent ten days in intensive care directly related to untreated gum disease.) Third, low-income parents on public assistance are unable to obtain jobs because of the condition of their mouths.

HCFA's incredible Oral Health Advocacy Task Force is getting ready to make their first major policy push to convince the Senate to restore coverage in their upcoming FY06 budget plan. What do you think? Worth the effort? Are you ready to help? Use the form on the right to let us know your reactions and thoughts.