When it comes to dental health, Florida has a long way to go. More than 5 million Floridians are living in areas that have limited or no access to preventative care. According to Floridians for Dental Access, in 2019, Florida hospitals billed more than $630 million for ER and hospital visits stemming from preventable oral health issues.
Despite being a source of health coverage, Florida Medicaid paid for nearly 40% of those ER visits. That’s because currently, for people 21 years and older Florida Medicaid only covers emergency dental services to alleviate pain and infection, and procedures essential to prepare the mouth for dentures. There is no clarity about what, if any, non-emergency dental benefits are provided through Florida Medicaid Dental Managed Care.
It has been nearly two decades since the Florida Legislature adopted changes to the current Medicaid adult dental benefit. During the 2021 legislative session, Florida’s elected officials have the opportunity to improve access to dental care for low-income Floridians and save the state millions of dollars.
This year, Representative Angie Nixon (Jacksonville) and Senator Jason Pizzo (Miami-Dade) have filed bills focused on improving access to dental care for Florida’s Medicaid enrollees.
Services necessary to prevent disease and promote oral health, restore oral structures to health and function.
Treatment of emergency conditions.
Routine diagnostic and preventive care, such as dental cleanings, exams, and x-rays.
Basic dental services such as fillings and extractions.
Major dental services such as root canals, crowns, and dentures and other dental protheses.
According to Florida Policy Institute, strengthening Florida’s very restricted Medicaid adult dental benefit make dental care more accessible for 1.3 million Florida adults aged 19 and older. The bills would ultimately reduce Florida’s budget spending on costly emergency department visits for dental conditions. In Virginia where a similar bill was passed, researchers conclude that investing in this benefit “will lead to reductions in medical care costs financed by Medicaid.”
It is time to update Florida law to provide Medicaid coverage for comprehensive adult dental care.
Are you on Medicaid and struggling to access care? Click here to share your oral health story.
Click here to learn more about the state campaign to bring a Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit to Florida and how you can get involved.
Click here to learn more about how updating Florida Medicaid's Adult Dental Benefit Would Improve Beneficiaries' Overall Health and Save State Dollars.