Missouri Medicaid Could Include Adult Dental Care

Published 04/10 2014 06:26PM

Updated 04/10 2014 06:45PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Thousands of people in the Ozarks could get oral healthcare coverage through Medicaid, if an included budget allotment from the legislature makes it to a final vote.

Dentists and lawmakers alike said Thursday that preventative care is much less costly then emergency room visits for patients with severe pain.

"The affect would be very dramatic," Dr. Nick Pfannenstiel, the director of dentistry at Jordan Valley Community Health Center, said.

Lawmakers say the proposed $48 million -- which would be covered in large part by the federal government, would save the Show-Me State in the long-run.

"I'm a family doctor," Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf said. "This was a hard won negotiation ... Ultimately it would provide preventive care to people that would end up saving the state money."

Children and pregnant mothers already receive dental benefits through medicaid, but coverage for the majority of adults was cut back in 2005.

"It would make a huge impact not only for the patients we see in our doors right now but for the community overall, affecting their health overall, allowing better access overall and allowing those patients access of care outside of the emergency room type treatment when they're seeking care now," Pfannenstiel said.

If the dental coverage is included on the legislature's final vote, it could be passed by May 9 and would then go to the governor's office.

"The end goal would be to get those people to a healthy state and then get those people into a preventive system as well."

The funds are not part of the medicaid expansion proposals lobbied for by the governor, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and other groups.

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