Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit Toolkit for Advocates

Published 01/26/2021

The need to keep Medicaid adult dental benefits is critical, as a rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) would allow states to reduce or eliminate optional benefits without any loss of enhanced federal funding. That’s why CareQuest Institute created a robust toolkit, designed to help advocates educate policymakers and other stakeholders to not only preserve Medicaid adult dental benefits, but expand them as well. 

Some key takeaways from the toolkit: 

  • Robust dental coverage is highly valued by adults. In a survey of U.S. adults, 51% said they were concerned about their oral health, making it a greater concern than heart, eye, digestive, mental, and skin health. 
  • Without robust Medicaid coverage, the cost of dental care will be unaffordable for many adults. A national survey showed adults were more likely to cite financial barriers as a reason for not getting dental care than they were to cite this as a barrier to medical care, prescription drugs, mental health services or eyeglasses. 
  • Low-income adults without Medicaid dental coverage are more likely to address nontraumatic dental conditions (NTDCs) by seeking care at hospital emergency departments (EDs). The care provided in EDs is expensive and rarely addresses the root causes of NTDCs. 

This toolkit also contains resources, including an infographic describing how cutting Medicaid adult dental benefits will hurt states, a research report that reveals why dental coverage is so important for lower-income Americans and other materials to review or share with policy makers.