Medicaid – Advancing Access to Dental Care and Reducing Administrative Barriers

The ADA supports helping adults who rely on Medicaid to get access to dental care and believes that the federal government needs to help improve access to care by reducing the administrative burdens on Medicaid dentists.

An infographic that reads, "Only half of the states provide comprehensive dental coverage for adults in their Medicaid programs. Support the Medicaid Dental Benefits Act."

Background on Medicaid Access to Dental Care

A long-standing lack of focus on adult oral health care from federal and state governments has created a patchwork of dental coverage by state Medicaid programs.

This lack of dental coverage in some states is particularly problematic because the millions of adults who rely on Medicaid are the least likely to access dental care and face the biggest cost barriers to dental care. They are also more likely to experience dental pain, report poor mouth health, and find their lives to be less satisfying due to their poor oral health.

Ensuring that states provide comprehensive dental services to adult Medicaid beneficiaries is a sound economic investment. The ADA’s Health Policy Institute estimated the cost to secure dental coverage for the millions of adults who rely on Medicaid for their health care. The study shows that across the states that currently do not provide comprehensive dental coverage, the net cost of providing extensive adult dental benefits is $836 million per year. This includes an estimated $1.1 billion per year in dental care costs and $273 million per year in medical care savings.

Additionally, as Medicaid oral health coverage opens the door to regular care in more appropriate and cost-effective settings, fewer people would turn to emergency departments to relieve dental pain. This change could save our health system $2.7 billion annually.

Administrative barriers for dentists in Medicaid, including audits and credentialing, also create challenges for patients who are trying to access dental care.

Patient Discussion
Medicaid Dental Legislation in Congress

We urge Congress to make comprehensive dental care a mandatory component of Medicaid coverage for adults in every state and to increase access to oral health care within the Medicaid program by reducing administrative barriers for dentists. Learn more about how the Medicaid Dental Benefit Act would change this by helping to ensure that all adults on Medicaid have access to dental care.

How can you help?

The ADA strongly supports S. 570/H.R. 1342, the Medicaid Dental Benefit Act of 2023 and H.R. 1422, the Strengthening Medicaid Incentives for Licensees Enrolled in Dental (SMILED) Act in the House.

We urge you to contact your members of Congress to ask them to cosponsor these important pieces of legislation to help Americans who rely on Medicaid to get access to dental care.