PA House passes bill to restore Medicaid coverage for dental services

Bipartisan legislation would provide dental benefits to Medical Assistance recipients

HARRISBURG, Dec. 12 – Legislation that would expand dental coverage for Medicaid recipients in Pennsylvania passed the state House today, announced the bill’s prime co-sponsors, state Reps. Emily Kinkead, D-Allegheny; Gina H. Curry, D-Delaware; and Valerie Gaydos, R-Allegheny.

House Bill 1417 would provide Medical Assistance recipients in PA with a dental benefits package that includes coverage for root canals, periodontal disease work, emergency exams, and other services that were cut from the state’s Medical Assistance program in 2011.

“Everyone deserves access to essential health services, including dental care,” Kinkead said. “Root canals are not currently covered for the millions of Pennsylvanians who rely on Medicaid to access health care, forcing many to live with excruciating pain every day because they cannot afford these critical procedures. This legislation would help provide vital oral health services to low-income families across the Commonwealth.”

“This legislation is a critical addition around essential care of the constituents of our commonwealth,” said Curry. “In my community and throughout Pennsylvania, there are many constituents whose only access to dental and health care is through Medical Assistance. For decades, we have seen the devastating results for families when medical and health care inequities continue to plague those who suffer the most vulnerabilities when it comes to their health. This bipartisan bill is a step forward in our legislature working together to create a more equitable and fair health care system, which ensures better outcomes for patients and providers.”

“Good dental care is good health care and is critical to workforce development,” said Gaydos. “Cuts in Medical Assistance that occurred in 2011 did not save money. It actually costs the Commonwealth more when poor dental health leads to chronic and costly diseases. In addition, good dental care also plays a key role in job placement.”

The PA House passed H.B. 1417 by a bipartisan vote of 153-50. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.