Governor Janet Mills recently signed a bipartisan 2022-2023 budget that includes funds for expanded access to preventive dental care to an estimated 217,000 Mainers, while saving the state in costly emergency room visits, cutting healthcare costs statewide.
The unanimous passage of the legislation (LD 996) that the budget funds was the culmination of a three-year campaign. This bill provides comprehensive preventive, diagnostic, and restorative dental services to Maine adults 21 years or older covered by Medicaid (MaineCare). The bill’s passage, and subsequent funding, recognizes the importance of oral health to overall health and advances the State of Maine’s healthcare system.
The bill requests that a subcommittee of the MaineCareAdvisory Committee convene prior to October 1, 2021, to assist in creating a plan to implement the adult dental benefit. It further requires the Department of Health and Human Services to work with providers of oral health care and dental services to encourage participation in the MaineCare program. It requires the department to develop public education materials and strategies for their distribution. The department must also provide a five-year report on the comprehensive adult dental benefit on costs and savings, demographic data related to benefit use, and results of efforts to reduce oral health disparities for Maine racial minority, indigenous, and tribal populations to the joint standing Health and Human Services and Appropriations and Financial Affairs committees no later than January 2, 2027.
Northeast Delta Dental was a proponent of the legislation because it increases access to dental care to more adult Mainers. We couldn’t be happier for them, because better oral health will positively impact every facet of their lives and increase their overall health and wellness. The State of Maine also benefits, because it will save millions of dollars annually in healthcare costs.
Passage of the bill enjoyed bipartisan legislative supportand the support of Mainers who need dental care, health advocates, and dental and health care providers.Proponents also included the Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Maine Dental Association, Maine Equal Justice, Maine Oral Health Coalition, Maine Primary Care Association, and Partnership for Children’s Oral Health. The rallying cry of the campaign was, “dental care is health care.”
Well done everyone. An announcement available at https://www.pressherald.com/2021/07/07/health-care-advocates-reap-victories-from-maine-legislature/