Senate Health Committee advances bill to increase dental coverage for Medicaid enrollees

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CORRECTION: This article was updated on Jan. 21 to correct an error in reporting. The article previously stated that “Medicare” would be the impacted service. This was inaccurate, and all references to “Medicare” have been corrected to “Medicaid.” We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, on Thursday, heard testimony regarding the Committee Substitute for SB 269, which seeks to increase the dental care coverage limit for Medicaid recipients. 

As explained by Senate Counsel Cindy Dellinger, “The introduced bill increases the coverage limit from $1,000 to $2,000. Anything above $2,000 would be on the individual recipient of services to pay.”

Under the terms of the bill, Medicaid’s defined dental coverage includes:

  • Cosmetic Services: “dental work that improves the appearance of the teeth, gums, or bite, including, but not limited to, inlays or onlays, composite bonding, dental veneers, teeth whitening, or braces.”
  • Diagnostic and Preventative Services: “dental work that maintains good oral health and includes oral evaluations, routine cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatment, fillings, and extractions.”
  • Restorative Services: “dental work that involves tooth replacement, including, but not limited to, dentures, dental implants, bridges, crowns, or corrective procedures such as root canals.”

“The introduced bill requires BMS (Bureau for Medical Services) to conduct a survey of dental rates in the United States, and base the average rate for these services in West Virginia on the (national) average rate by July 1, 2024,” Dellinger continued. “There is a committee substitute that amends the language to require the national survey to be a state-representative survey to more accurately reflect a West Virginia rate.” 

According to Dellinger, the requested fiscal note has not yet been received.

“There was a bill introduced similar to this bill last year,” Dellinger noted. “SB 620. That bill did not make it to the Health Committee agenda. That bill moved the number that was covered to $1,500.”

Dellinger added that the projected cost for SB 620 to increase dental coverage from $1,000 to $1,500 was $4.6 million in state funds, and $19.3 million in federal funds. These projections were based upon 47,914 Medicare recipients receiving the $500 increase in coverage.

The substitute for SB 269 was approved by the committee, and will now progress to the Senate Committee on Finance.  

To read more from the W.Va. Dental Association regarding additional upcoming legislation, click here

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