Oral Health Legislation in Virginia
The Coalition has been closely following federal and state legislation as it relates to oral health services, insurance and access. The following are updates on several key legislative pieces that affect oral health care for Virginians.
Virginia Department of Health Dental Clinics
During Virginia's 2012 legislative session, the Senate Finance Committee identified the Coalition, along with other statewide organizations, as part of a stakeholder group that will evaluate the sustainability and efficiency of Virginia Department of Health (VDH) dental clinics. Next week, Coalition leadership will attend the first stakeholder meeting convened by the Commissioner of Health to begin working on a transition plan for these clinics. The Coalition advocated to restore funding to the dental clinics and will work to ensure that critical access to dental care in underserved areas is not lost.
Medicaid Expansion in Virginia
Following the Supreme Court ruling, Virginia no longer has to accept the Medicaid expansion that would extend coverage to 425,000 adults. In a July 10 letter to legislators, Governor McDonnell indicated that he had more questions regarding the Medicaid expansion and creation of a health benefits exchange in Virginia.
What does this mean for oral health?
The Medicaid expansion would bring a limited emergency extraction dental benefit to newly qualified adults up to 133% of the federal poverty line (FPL). For perspective, a single person working full-time on a minimum wage salary would be at the maximum income limit to receive this Medicaid benefit. Moreover, if Medicaid is not expanded or expanded to less than 133% FPL, individuals who fall between 30% FPL and 133% FPL could be caught without insurance in a virtual "donut hole" where they are ineligible for state coverage and may not be able to purchase insurance in Virginia's health benefits exchange.
Hospitals - especially those with high uninsured patient populations - will also be affected. In lieu of an anticipated expansion in the number of Medicaid-insured patients, the ACA directs disproportionate share or "DSH" funding to be cut by 50%. This funding is critical for hospitals who see many indigent patients to offset the expense of treating the uninsured. If Medicaid is not expanded in Virginia, the fate of DSH funding and the affected hospitals is unknown.
Furthermore, current research suggests that the primary reason for ER visits is preventable, dental-related emergencies. While limited, the emergency extraction dental benefit under the Medicaid expansion will certainly keep some patients out of the ER where treatment is less costly and more effective.
Learn more about why the Medicaid expansion is essential for Virginians
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