Did you receive an email from the Bridge to Healthy Smiles campaign today? It reminded local voters that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and the State Legislature are conducting a review of all Medicaid services to find $2.7 billion in budget cuts. Adult dental services are on the chopping block for possible elimination due to their classification as “optional services” under federal reimbursement guidelines.
The Bridge to Healthy Smiles campaign urged voters to help the governor and their elected officials understand that elimination of the adult services is not the answer; it will instead shift the burden to emergency rooms that can not treat the underlying dental condition.
You can read the full message from the Bridge to Health Smiles campaign here.
If you agree and want to help, the Bridge to Healthy Smiles campaign encourages you to call Gov. Quinn and your legislators and explain why they must not cut the adult dental funding and what the impact will be on the underserved population.
Governor Quinn’s office can be reached at 217.782.0244 during business hours.
The Illinois State Dental Society has provided on its website links to help you identify your elected representative, and an outline of talking points for when you call that person’s legislative office:
- The adult dental program is a state-optional program and only accounts for about 20 percent ($51 million) of the entire dental appropriation in the FY-12 budget, which is projected to be $300 million. Since the federal government pays half of the Medicaid costs, the State of Illinois’ savings would only be $25.5 million.
- If the adult dental program is eliminated, much or all of the savings in the dental appropriation would be offset due to increased State spending for those patients who present to hospital emergency rooms seeking pain relief.
- In most cases, emergency rooms are only able to provide pain medication and antibiotics, which temporarily address the clinical concerns.
- The Pew Center issued a report on February 28, 2012, that documented a 15.8 percent increase in emergency room visits from 2006-2009 in states that reduced or eliminated adult dental care programs.