75,000 Virginians enrolled in Medicaid to receive expanded dental coverage July 1

Virginians under Medicaid will gain access to additional dental coverage after July 1 thanks to a new policy in the state's recently passed budget.

Under the new policy, Medicaid recipients will have access to preventive care, X-rays, exams, fillings, dentures, root canals, gum-related treatment and oral surgeries. Braces and bridges will not be covered.

In October, budget negotiators provided approximately $17.5 million in the state's budget to implement the coverage. Previously, dental coverage was offered to pregnant women and youth under 20 years old under the state's Smiles for Children program. Adults over 20 were only covered for emergency extractions. Medicaid beneficiaries will now be included in the Smiles for Children program once the policy goes into effect.

Policy experts have concluded that policy reforms would improve public health while reducing costs to the healthcare system. In 2018, there were roughly 19,000 visits to the emergency room for dental care, costing about $15 million.

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