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MaineCare to Cover Adults

We are excited to announce that on June 2 and 3, respectively, the Maine House and Senate both passed LD 996, “An Act To Improve Dental Health Access for Maine Children and Adults with Low Incomes,” unanimously and with support across party lines. The provisions of this bill mean that MaineCare will expand dental coverage to include preventive and more restorative care for individuals aged 21 and older, and approximately 217,000 Maine adults will have access to the care they need. The next step is funding by the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs (AFA) Committee. A similar proposal is also under consideration by that committee as part of Governor Mills’ budget change package, introduced in May. If the final package includes the proposal, the LD 996 won’t be needed. The change package also includes long-needed increases in all MaineCare reimbursement rates, including dental.

Passage of LD 996 in the Legislature caps a consistent three-year campaign to expand Maine’s emergency-only dental benefit to one that covers prevention and treatment, following similar attempts off and on during the past two decades. This last effort was organized and led by Maine Equal Justice (MEJ), a nonprofit civil legal aid and economic justice organization working to increase economic security, opportunity, and equity for people in Maine.

Quoted in the Portland Press Herald, MEJ director of health care campaigns and advocacy Kathy Kilrain del Rio said, “I think there are people across our state who may cry tears of relief when they hear this news.” She added “Today, Maine has gotten one step closer to finally joining the great majority of states in recognizing that our mouths are a part of our bodies, and that dental care is health care. We are overjoyed that so many Mainers will be able to afford the care they have needed for so long.

Other organization that supported the campaign included the Maine Dental Association, Maine Oral Health Coalition, Partnership for Children’s Oral Health, Maine Primary Care Association, Delta Dental, Southern Maine Workers Center and Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care. At the public hearing for LD 996, legislators heard testimony from these groups and others, along with many individuals who spoke from their own experience.

A 2021 report from the Health Policy Institute found that Maine would save millions in medical care costs and see more than $21 million annually in economic benefits from covering full dental care for adults with low incomes.

We will update this news story when the new state budget is passed into law later in June.

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Data Brief on Children’s Dental Care in Maine

New!! Updated data brief from the Partnership for Children’s Oral Health:

Dental Care among Children with MaineCare and Commercial Dental Benefits
2019 Update and 2016-2019 Trends In Dental Services

Highlights:

  • Almost half of Maine children and youth under age 21 had either no dental coverage or had coverage for only part of the year.
  • About 3 out of 10 children with year-long commercial dental benefits, and 4 out of 10 children with year-long MaineCare, had no claims for preventive dental care in 2019.
  • Preventive dental care among Maine children with dental benefits peaks in elementary school aged children and declines through adolescence.
  • The disparity in preventive dental care rates between publicly-insured and privately-insured children increases with age and varies widely across Maine’s counties.

https://mainepcoh.org/publications/2020_PCOH_data_brief_WEB.pdf

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New Maine School Oral Health Program Handbook

The Maine Oral Health Program is pleased to share its new handbook for school oral health programs.

The intent of the manual is to assist school administrators, dentists, dental hygienists, nurses, and volunteers in implementing the Program. This handbook addresses questions and concerns stakeholders have presented to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services during its administration of the Program.

https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/odh/documents/2021SOHP_Handbook.pdf