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Dental groups thank Sen. Cardin, Rep. Barragán for prioritizing dental care

Organizations request temporary increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentages to support state Medicaid programs

May 21, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA, Organized Dentistry Coalition and state dental associations are applauding Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-Calif., for spearheading Congress’ efforts to include dental care in the next COVID-19 legislation.
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In May 21 letters to the lawmakers, the groups said that the dental community was one of the first to recommend postponing all nonemergency procedures at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic which helped slow community spread, preserved medical supplies and contributed to alleviating emergency departments from non-COVID-19 visits. They also said that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has classified dental health care personnel in the “very high exposure risk category” and noted that the ability to fully reopen dental practices is “more contingent on the ability of a dentist to use appropriate personal protective equipment and future use of rapid testing kits.”

The coalition said that a “specific and temporary increase” in the nation’s Federal Medical Assistance Percentages would be “most welcome” if used to support state Medicaid programs with adult and child dental services as dentists across the country continue to navigate the “unique challenges” presented by the pandemic. The dental groups added that the lawmakers’ proposed $75 million public health oral infrastructure fund could be used to support efforts by dentists to acquire personal protective equipment and rapid testing kits.

“When times are tough with state budgets and cuts are on the table for state Medicaid programs, there is a tried and true group of dentists who stay committed to seeing these Medicaid high risk patients for lower fees and they should get some relief with an increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage funding,” said Dr. Jessica Meeske, vice chair, ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention.

The coalition concluded by saying the dental organizations “look forward” to continuing to work with legislators to ensure dental practices can move our economy forward and provide essential oral health care to their patients.

“Thank you again for your commitment to oral health.”

Follow all of the ADA’s COVID-19 advocacy efforts at ADA.org/COVID19Advocacy.