Monday, August 8, 2022

Gov. Northam Announces New Dental Benefit for Virginians

On Thursday, June 1, 2021, Gov. Ralph Northam announced the expansion of dental services for Virginians who are eligible for benefits through the state’s Medicaid program. (Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels)

RICHMOND — On Thursday, July 1, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam announced that more than 750,000 adult Virginians will gain new dental benefits through Virginia’s Medicaid program.

Starting July 1, adult Virginians who are eligible for full Medicaid benefits have access to more providers as well as dental services. These benefits include: up to three regular cleanings annually, preventative care, x-rays, fillings, dentures, oral surgeries, and a variety of other oral health services.

“Oral health is an integral part of overall health, well-being, and quality of life,” said Governor Northam. “This historic expansion of services will ensure that adult Medicaid members across our Commonwealth have access to the quality dental care they deserve. I am proud of the bipartisan support and strong collaboration we have received from dentists and health care advocates that helped us reach this significant milestone.”

According to the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF), there are approximately 3.2 million Virginians without dental insurance. The same research also showed that sixty-seven Virginia localities are without a dental safety net provider.

Since expanding Virginia’s Medicaid eligibility in 2019, new members identified dental care as being a top need.

“With more than 562,000 new members as a result of Medicaid expansion, we appreciate the support of Virginia dentists in helping us meet the tremendous need we know exists in our Commonwealth for oral health care,” said Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) Director Karen Kimsey.

This new expanded dental coverage comes on the heals of a study performed by Delta Dental of Virginia and published in a June 22, 2021 article for Dentistry Today, a leading clinical magazine for the dental industry, showed that 35 percent of Virginians are still hesitant to return to the dentist’s chair in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research has shown that poor oral healthcare contributes to many health conditions including infections, heart disease, gum disease and oral cancer.

“With this new benefit, Virginians will have access to true wellness,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD, MHCM. “I am grateful to the dental community, the General Assembly, and the Department for Medical Assistance Services for all of their work to make this happen. Together, we can make Virginia the healthiest state in the country.”

The Commonwealth’s dental benefits administrator, DentaQuest, and DMAS are working directly with dental care providers in order to encourage their participation in this initiative. Those who wish to become a provider under Medicaid can call can call 1-888-912-3456 or visit the Dentaquest website to learn more about credentialing information and how to enroll as a network provider.

Medicaid members are encouraged to call a DentaQuest representative at 1-888-912-3456 to learn more about these benefits.

It is important to note that children and pregnant individuals enrolled in Medicaid, Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) and FAMIS MOMS are already eligible for this benefit.

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