Bill to restore Medicaid non-emergency dental coverage goes to Gov. Otter

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The Idaho Senate passed a bill to restore non-emergency dental care for Medicaid recipients on a 28-7 vote Monday.

Emergency dental care has been the only coverage offered for much of the Medicaid population since the state removed non-emergency coverage in 2011 while cutting programs during the recession.

Non-emergency care was restored for children and those with major disabilities two years later, but other Medicaid recipients did not see those benefits restored.

Under this legislation, no one would be added to Medicaid.

Sen. Maryanne Jordan, the bill’s Senate sponsor, said the bill isn’t Medicaid expansion and that it would save money.

“It’s a valuable piece of the health care puzzle. It’s not expansion. It is a resumption of existing services and has the potential to significantly reduce spending,” said Jordan, D-Boise.

The bill received bipartisan support on the Senate floor.

“This is not Medicaid expansion,” said Sen. Mary Souza, R- Coeur d’Alene. “This is $38 a year per Medicaid patient that are already on our existing basic Medicaid roles. I think that this prevention makes all sort of Medicaid sense, and just basic common sense.”

“I’m no fan of Medicaid and no fan of expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,” said Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett. “However, this particular bill fits into what I think we should be doing as a state. And the original intent of Medicaid is to take care of the most vulnerable.”

HB 465 previously cleared the House on a narrow 36-32 vote and now goes to Gov. Butch Otter.

– Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

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