After over 25 years of promoting and lobbying for adult Medicaid dental benefits with dedicated advocates and legislators, our efforts finally paid off. On July 1, 2022, a bill was signed into law, providing dental benefits to nearly 88,000 adult NH Medicaid recipients. In the past, only children were covered.
Under the new benefit, effective April 1, 2023, both diagnostic and preventive care are fully covered and other services such as replacement fillings or oral surgery are subject to a cap and possible copays, depending on income level. This is a momentous and crucial first step, but now we face our next challenges – to execute the program and to recruit dentists to serve this population.
Following Governor Sununu’s signing of SB 422 and HB 103, Northeast Delta Dental was also awarded a contract to manage the coverage of these oral health services. We have joined forces with DentaQuest, the nation’s largest Medicaid dental benefits administrator, to support the administration of this new benefit. In addition to holding and overseeing the contract, Northeast Delta Dental will actively leverage our dental provider network to increase access to oral health care.
In an effort to meet the higher demands for dental services, we will be encouraging our participating dentists in NH to provide and/or enroll to become Medicaid providers, especially providers that have already been serving children on Medicaid as well as others not in our network that service Medicaid patients as a way to serve their community. We will also focus on recruiting providers where large populations of Medicaid patients reside to support coverage where need is highest. Finally, we have invested $6 million in a loan repayment program requiring recipients to be enrolled (or be willing to become enrolled) as a Medicaid provider and be actively participating in the state’s Medicaid program in one of our three states.
Anticipating a high volume of inquiries from new beneficiaries, on the first day, we will be manning the phones all day, transferring calls to DentaQuest. In addition, there are two mobile dental clinics scheduled that day at our office at Two Delta Drive in Concord, NH and another at Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, 181 Corliss Lane, Colebrook, NH, from 9 to 4:30 to handle urgent dental care for new benefit recipients. And, a new teledentistry number will be launched on April 1 as well.
We know that meeting this new demand for oral health care is hard work, but we enthusiastically embrace it, because ‘Everyone deserves a healthy smile.’