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05 June 2023

Minnesota Dental Association successfully leads legislative effort to expand adult dental Medicaid benefits

The Minnesota Dental Association (MDA) successfully led a legislative effort to expand the adult dental Medicaid benefit set. The legislation, included in the 2023 Health and Human Services Omnibus, was signed by Governor Walz on May 24, according to a press release.

For the first time since 2009, Minnesota's most vulnerable residents, including low-income individuals, people with disabilities and seniors, will have comprehensive dental benefits.

All Medicaid recipients in Minnesota will receive comprehensive adult dental benefits starting in 2024, regardless of age.

In addition to providing essential dental benefits, this legislation will help to reduce unnecessary visits to our state's emergency rooms for basic dental care. Emergency room costs for non-traumatic dental care are estimated at $22 million per year.

The Minnesota Dental Association, through the HelpMNSmile campaign, initially sought the expansion of the adult dental Medicaid benefit set in 2020 and 2022. The 2023 bill, sponsored by Representative Robert Bierman (DFL – Apple Valley) and Senator Liz Boldon (DFL – Rochester), was included in Governor Walz's Budget Proposal. 

"We are grateful for the efforts taken by the legislature to restore comprehensive dental benefits for adults," said MDA President Dr. Tim Holland in the press release. "The Minnesota Dental Association thanks Representatives Robert Bierman and Tina Liebling, Senators Liz Boldon and Melissa Wiklund and Governor Walz for their support. An estimated 800,000 Minnesotans will be positively impacted by this legislation," he said.  

In 2009, Medicaid dental benefits for adults were significantly reduced due to budget cuts. Minnesota has since had two different dental benefit sets for Medicaid enrollees including a benefit set for pregnant adults and children, and a benefit set for non-pregnant adults. While pregnant adults and children under the age of 21 experience extensive benefits, many of Minnesota's most vulnerable adult residents enrolled in Medicaid lack coverage of basic dental services.

A recent analysis by the American Dental Association's Health Policy Institute identified Minnesota as one of several states with a limited Medicaid adult dental benefit, while 21 states, including Wisconsin, Iowa, and North Dakota, provide comprehensive dental benefits.

The Minnesota Dental Association is the voice of dentistry in Minnesota, representing practicing dentists. It is committed to the highest standards of oral health and access to care for all Minnesotans. Learn more at: www.mndental.org.

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