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ACTION ALERT:  To send a letter of support for HB858/SB141-Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Former Foster Care Adolescents – Dental Care, click here.


Oral health is a critical component of overall health as it affects speech, nutrition, and quality of life. If oral health problems are left untreated, they can develop into more severe health problems. This is the situation for many former foster youth who have serious oral health issues. Currently, oral health care is not a part of the Medicaid benefit package for adults in Maryland. Therefore, foster youth no longer have meaningful access to dental care.

As a result, many adults–which include former foster youth–use the Emergency Room for dental services. The charges incurred such visits totaled $21 million in 2014 alone, with Medicaid paying for over half the charges. Clearly, the use of emergency departments for dental care is both costly and ineffective. Patients may be given pain medicine and/or antibiotics, but the underlying condition is not addressed.

Advocates for Children and Youth’s work with former foster youth has identified access to oral health services as a particular unmet need. Therefore, expanding Medicaid dental benefits to former foster youth until age 26 would provide needed services.

These benefits will also align with the Federal mandate that allows health and dental coverage under their parents’ plan until age 26.

February 11, 2015
Neha Trivedi, health policy director, gave testimony in support of SB141, which expands Medicaid dental benefits to former foster youth until age 26. Medicaid benefits for children in Maryland, including all those in the foster care system, include oral health services; however, dental care is not a part of the Medicaid benefit package for adults in Maryland. Former foster adolescents lose access to dental care at age 21 even though they are able to retain medical coverage through Medicaid until they turn 26. Advocates for Children and Youth believes that extending oral health benefits for this vulnerable population to their 26th birthday will be serving an identified unmet need in a cost effective way. To read testimony, click here.

February 24, 2015
Neha Trivedi, health policy director, wrote testimony in support of HB355/SB431, which creates a study on adult access to oral health bringing together stakeholders to identify options for expanding access to dental services. Maryland Medicaid does cover medical services for postpartum women for 60 days after delivery; however, dental coverage ends once they are no longer pregnant. Expanding dental services through Medicaid coverage to postpartum women through HB 355 is an important first step as Maryland identifies appropriate strategies to address access to dental health services for adults. To read testimony, click here.

UPDATE: HB355 received an unfavorable report from the Health Government Operations Committee. 

March 10, 2015
HB 858’s hearing in the Health and Government Operations Committee was today. Senator Pena-Melnyk gave a wonderful introduction and the witnesses included Neha Trivedi (Advocates for Children and Youth), Margie Donohue (Maryland Dental Action Coalition), and Rachel Dodge (Health Care Access Maryland- MATCH Program). To read testimony, click here.

March 18, 2015
The most recent legislative update includes an action alert requesting supporters to help foster youth receive dental coverage up until the age of 26.  To send a letter of support for  HB858/SB141-Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Former Foster Care Adolescents – Dental Care click here.

Foster Youth and Dental Care FINAL

 

UPDATE: Unfortunately, SB141 and HB858 received unfavorable reports from the Senate Finance Committee and House Health and Government Operations Committee.