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Permanent link  Illinois dramatically cuts adult dental services under Medicaid


On Thursday, the Illinois legislature passed a bill that will cut $1.6 billion--more than 10% of the total budget--from the state's Medicaid program. While some services, such as chiropractic and podiatric, were cut entirely, adult dental services did not fare much better. According to Illinois State Dental Society:

The adult program will now be an 'emergency only' program. Early indications are that it will only include a dental emergency examination, X-rays to diagnose the emergency condition, and extractions. The elimination of restorative services and dentures is projected to save $35.4 million dollars in the FY-2013 budget that begins on July 1, 2012.... [A]lso eliminated [is] the $1 million dental clinic grant program that ISDS developed as part of its Bridge to Healthy Smiles campaign.

The state is also cutting costs by reducing eligibility for Medicaid. Changing eligibility from 185% to 133% of the federal poverty level is expected to move hundreds of thousands of state residents out of the program. Those who remain, however, will still face cutbacks to service, including dental, vision and prescription coverage.

The public debate around Medicaid this spring has pitted advocates who accuse the state of "balancing the budget on the backs of the poor" (Sen. Mattie Hunter) against those who say without drastic measures the entire Medicaid program will collapse.

Among the dental community, Illinois State Dental Society, which aggressively lobbied against the cuts and prevented across-the-board cuts for adults and children, has pledged to work with Gov. Quinn and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to clarify what will be considered a dental emergency and how treatments authorized prior to July 1, 2012 but not yet performed will be handled once these changes go into effect. The children's dental program for Medicaid was not affected by this legislation.

View our previous blog coverage on this topic: 

Medicaid crisis in Illinois threatens access to dental care 

Help keep adult dental services in the Medicaid program