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ADA supports legislation to lift Medicaid funding cap in U.S. territories

Bill would give residents access to Medicaid benefits, including oral health care

October 16, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington – The ADA is expressing support for HR 6495, the Insular Area Medicaid Parity Act, bipartisan legislation that would lift the Medicaid funding cap in the U.S. territories to give them full access to Medicaid benefits, including oral health care.

In an Oct. 13 letter to bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, I-Northern Mariana Islands, ADA President Chad P. Gehani and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin said that the ADA believes that “Medicaid plays an essential role in a state’s and territory’s oral health care safety net and our Association is committed to ensuring that families have access to comprehensive and affordable health coverage, including oral health care coverage.”

In the letter, Drs. Gehani and O’Loughlin noted that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program currently provide vital coverage to over 70 million Americans, including almost 35 million children.

“The Medicaid program continues to be a vital lifeline for vulnerable individuals, families and children,” they wrote. “Unfortunately, due to limitations in the funding statute, the Medicaid program operates differently in the U.S. territories compared to those of the states due to capped funding and a fixed federal medical assistance percentage.

“This discrepancy results in fewer federal dollars supporting territorial governments which in turn affects the financial viability of their Medicaid programs and threatens oral health coverage and benefits. HR 6495 would fix this by removing the cap and allowing the U.S. territories, all of which cover dental services, to be on par with the states.”

Drs. Gehani and O’Loughlin also noted that COVID-19 only exacerbates existing disparities.

“[This] is why parity for Medicaid in the U.S. territories is important to address,” they wrote. “We look forward to passage of this legislation to bring Medicaid parity for the insular areas.”

Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts at ADA.org/Advocacy.