AGD Issues Support for Legislation to Improve Medicaid Dental Care for Foster Youth

  • by AGD Washington Advocacy Representative
  • Apr 1, 2021

AGD sent a letter of support to Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) on March 25 for her bipartisan legislation, the Foster Youth Dental Act of 2021 (H.R.1794). The bill seeks to strengthen dental coverage under the Medicaid program for foster youth by increasing eligibility, providing incentives for dental providers, enhancing outreach efforts for enrollment, and protecting existing coverage for foster youth.

Youth who have aged out of the foster care system face considerable barriers in accessing oral health care. While foster youth may receive dental care while covered under Medicaid's EPSDT benefit, 39% of youths that have aged out of foster care do not have dental insurance. Additionally, foster care alumni without dental insurance are 93.5% less likely to have their dental needs met than those with insurance.

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Expand Medicaid oral health coverage by increasing the eligibility age from 21 years old to 25 years of age for former youth who are eligible for the foster youth Medicaid pathway.
  • Provide incentives for dental providers by:
    • Applying the higher of the state-submitted median private sector dental rate and the national median private sector dental rate for Medicaid reimbursement for oral health services provided to eligible patients (former foster youth).
  • Establish an outreach and enrollment program would be established to increase the enrollment of eligible former foster youth. States must also establish an outreach program to dental health providers to increase the number of providers available to eligible patients.  
  • Protect existing coverage for foster youth by ensuring that foster youth who move between states do not lose their Medicaid dental health insurance.

Impact on General Dentistry: AGD supports the legislation as it seeks to help improve access-to and utilization-of dental care issues among eligible former foster youth. Additionally, the legislation importantly recognizes the critical role increasing reimbursement rates can play in addressing the challenges facing state Medicaid programs in terms of provider participation.