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Missouri Governor Holds Funding for Restored Adult Dental Medicaid Benefits

July 9, 2014

The Missouri General Assembly voted in May to restore a limited Medicaid dental benefit for all qualified adults for the first time since funding was cut nearly a decade ago.

However, those benefits will not be available until Gov. Jay Nixon releases the funding. 

The bipartisan vote approved the annual state budget, which included $48.2 million allocated for federal and state funding for dental Medicaid coverage. For the time being, the governor has essentially put on hold the restoration of dental coverage for adult Medicaid recipients that had been eliminated. 

A recent Gallup poll shows that about one-third of people living in the Midwest did not visit a dentist in 2013. 

Medicaid funding for adult dental services in Missouri previously was only available for those who are blind or pregnant, and those with disabilities. 

“This proposal could go a long way to improve the health of Missourians who haven’t been able to see a dentist in years,” said Dr. Craig Hollander, president-elect of the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. 

Missouri dentists have advocated for better dental coverage for years, working alongside state legislators to strengthen the public/private safety net. Also, public education campaigns such as the MDA’s Your Mouth Is Talking, Are You Listening? campaign has sought to improve oral health awareness throughout the state.   

“The need is clear,” said Dr. Merle Nunemaker, president of the Missouri Dental Association (MDA). “We’ve seen that first hand – and we know what we must do. Missouri dentists will continue to work alongside Missouri policymakers to address the many barriers individuals face in obtaining dental care. The MDA is thankful to Representative Sue Allen and Senators Kurt Schaefer and Rob Schaaf for their commitment to protecting Missourians’ dental health and in moving this legislation forward.”