On July 1, I had the privilege of joining New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu in the Executive Council Chamber as he signed the landmark adult Medicaid dental benefit legislation into law. This was a momentous day for New Hampshire.
It was also a momentous day for Northeast Delta Dental. Consistent with our mission to improve the oral and overall health of the communities we serve, we have long advocated for adult Medicaid dental benefits to increase access to much needed oral health care. The signing of these two bills represents the culmination of years of challenging work by Northeast Delta Dental and many other stakeholders championing the legislation, including the New Hampshire Dental Society and the NH Oral Health Coalition. Politically, its support was bipartisan, with Democratic Senator Cindy Rosenwald and Republican Senator Jeb Bradley each sponsoring a bill.
The federal government requires dental benefits for children on Medicaid, but it is the option of state governments to provide adult dental benefits. When adult Medicaid dental benefits become available in 2023, 85,000 or more adults who previously were limited to receiving only emergency dental care will, finally, be eligible to receive diagnostic and preventive dental services, restorative treatment, and oral surgery.
For the first three years, state funding will come from a multimillion-dollar settlement the state received when it questioned the costs of pharmacy benefits services in the Medicaid program, with matching federal funds. Funding adult Medicaid dental benefits is financially prudent, because earlier investments in oral health will save money on the more expensive dental emergencies that cause people to visit emergency rooms.
Most importantly, this new law gives opportunities to improve the lives of many adult Granite Staters who will soon have access to the healthy smiles that many of us take for granted. As we like to say, everyone deserves a healthy smile.
To learn more, visit the Northeast Delta Dental Newsroom.