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Arizona restores emergency dental benefits

May 18, 2017

By Jennifer Garvin

Phoenix — The Arizona Dental Association tallied a huge win for access to dental care May 12, when Gov. Doug Ducey approved the budget for fiscal year 2018, which includes restoring emergency dental benefits for adults in the state's Medicaid program.

"We can't thank the governor and the legislature enough for recognizing this need," said Dr. Eric Curtis, Arizona Dental Association president in a news release. "We've heard a lot about lack of access to dental care. The best way to increase access is to break down barriers, which is what this budget items does. It's the right diagnosis and solution."

Arizona is currently one of eight states without any adult dental benefit, according to Kevin Earle, executive director, AzDA. The adult dental benefit was eliminated from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System in 2009 during the Great Recession, according to the Arizona Dental Association. Since then, AzDA has fought to have the benefit restored. Beginning in 2018, adults age 21 and older enrolled in Medicaid will be entitled to emergency dental care and extractions up to $1,000.

"This is a major improvement that will help lower-income adults take care of serious health issues that can stand in the way of them getting employment," Dr. Curtis said. "We'd also like to see more comprehensive benefits added for adult Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System patients."

The budget also includes $220,900 for AHCCCS to combat opioid addiction.