(CNN) As Republicans hash out the details of their health plans, dental associations around the country are looking nervously at the future. It has been little talked about, but the dental coverage that children receive and the coverage some adults get through their state’s Medicaid plans and those offered on exchanges could soon disappear.
That’s because the bills in the House eliminate the requirement that all plans, including Medicaid, carry the 10 essential health benefits that were written into law in Obamacare. One of those benefits is pediatric dental care. Instead, Congress would leave it up to states to decide which benefits policies must contain.
The bills also make Medicaid a block grant. Block-granting the health care coverage program for low-income Americans would cap spending and give states direct control over the program. It’s a policy change conservatives have long had on their wish list and the White House has said it supports that change. If the bills go through, it could also mean that states will have less money to spend on coverage and may force them to make tough choices on what plans would cover.
Reimbursement rates to dentists would also likely drop, meaning the list of providers would likely shrink. With a smaller budget and without a requirement that states cover dental, experts in the dental community worry the coverage may be some of the first to go.
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