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Poor Missourians could get dental coverage under changes OKd by lawmakers

Poor Missourians could get dental coverage under changes OKd by lawmakers


JEFFERSON CITY • Some Medicaid-eligible adults would have access to dental insurance for the first time since 2005 under a bill agreed on by Missouri lawmakers Tuesday.

The chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees announced the measure among other funding decisions Tuesday during a conference committee to reconcile differences in the two chambers’ fiscal year 2015 budgets. The budget must be completed by Friday, the constitutional deadline for passing the state’s spending plan.

Medicaid provides free or low-cost health insurance for more than 800,000 low-income Missourians. About 60 percent are children and the rest are custodial parents, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities.

In 2005, then-Gov. Matt Blunt and the Legislature eliminated an assortment of services, including dental care for most adults. Since then, Medicaid has provided dental benefits only for children and adults who are pregnant, blind or in nursing homes.

The bill agreed upon by the conference committee Tuesday provides $48.2 million in federal and state funds to reinstate adult dental care for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The $48.2 million would cover 30 basic procedures, such as exams and X-rays and provides money for dentists in the program.

The bill also provides Medicaid-eligible adults access to occupational, speech and physical therapy benefits.

Rep. Sue Allen, R-Town and Country, previously said it didn’t make sense to cover the cast and surgery for a broken bone, but not cover the therapy to help the injured person regain strength and range of motion. Allen is a licensed physical therapist.

The bill is HB 2011.

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Alex Stuckey is a statehouse reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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