Dingell introduces bill that would expand dental coverage for children enrolled in Medicaid, SCHIP

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D-Mich.) last week introduced a bill (HR 1781) that would help improve the delivery of dental services to low-income children enrolled in Medicaid and SCHIP, CQ HealthBeat reports.

The legislation would expand dental coverage to additional children, provide access to qualified dentists, improve efforts to track dental health among children and require dental coverage under SCHIP. In addition, the bill would:

  • Authorize $50 million in fiscal year 2008 and each subsequent year for financial incentives and grants to help states improve the delivery of dental services in Medicaid and SCHIP;
  • Authorize $40 million annually from FY 2008 through FY 2012 for grants to help underserved areas recruit and retain dental providers;
  • Require HHS to develop a dental health program to increase awareness and prevention;
  • Establish chief dental officer positions in CMS, CDC and the Health Resources and Services Administration and authorize $25 million in FY 2008 to fund their work;
  • Allow states to use SCHIP to supplement dental coverage for children with private health insurance;
  • Exempt dental residency programs from the methodology used to determine the number of full-time equivalent residents for Medicare Graduate Medical Education reimbursements; and
  • Authorize $58 million in FY 2008 and as necessary in the future to allow CDC to provide grants to states and American Indian tribes to improve the dental health of children and their families.
Dingell in a statement said, "Dental disease is the most common childhood disease -- more prevalent than asthma, diabetes and hay fever. It is also the easiest to prevent" (Teitelbaum, CQ HealthBeat, 4/2).

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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