Medicaid
10:14 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Dumping Dental Coverage From Medicaid Doubled Idaho's ER Visits

Credit Defence Images / Flickr Creative Commons

Trying to reduce Medicaid's dental expenses has been like pulling teeth.

That's what Department of Health and Welfare officials said Tuesday, describing how a decision in 2011 to dump dental coverage for 27,000 adults led to a doubling of dental-related emergency room services.

The Spokesman-Review reports monthly emergency-room costs rose to $65,000 now, from just $30,000 two years ago.

Other states that sought to trim Medicaid dental coverage just as they were being buffeted by the economic headwinds of the "Great Recession" also saw their emergency room services and hospital costs balloon.

As a result, they've concluded removing dental benefits amounted to a short-term savings.

Consequently, the Idaho agency wants $1.4 million in general funds, which would bring in $3.5 million in federal funds, to restore adult dental benefits.