|July 5, 2018 – Statement
Kentucky Oral Health Coalition Statement on Errors in Denying Dental Care for Children and Pregnant Women
Louisville, KY – We have heard directly from multiple KOHC dental providers across the state that Medicaid changes over the past few days have resulted in the denial of routine dental care of eligible children and pregnant women. Though these populations were supposed to be protected from coverage changes, errors have meant that children who show up for a dental visit have been turned away with unmet dental needs unnecessarily. Kentucky has long struggled with oral health challenges and we can’t afford to let errors turn children and pregnant women away from receiving important care.
Last week, the federal court blocked the implementation of the Medicaid 1115 waiver, known as Kentucky HEALTH. In response to the Medicaid ruling on Kentucky HEALTH, the Bevin administration announced that Medicaid expansion adults will no longer be offered the ability to purchase dental and vision services through their My Rewards account effective July 1, 2018. It appears that as an unintentional consequence, Medicaid-eligible children and pregnant women are being denied routine dental care.
Due to a shortage of dentists who accept Medicaid in Kentucky, particularly in rural areas, we know that some families travel several hours just to get to a dental appointment. For this reason, summer vacation is the ideal time for caregivers to schedule dental visits for their children. This timing adds to the urgency. We cannot allow families to show up only to be turned away and miss their opportunity to access the dental care they need to stay healthy.
Given the Governor’s commitment to children, we hope the administration takes immediate action to ensure Medicaid-eligible children and pregnant women receive uninterrupted access to the vital dental coverage they were expecting. We call on the administration to communicate immediately with providers that the state will cover dental services for any child or pregnant women who were eligible as of June 30, 2018. We as a Commonwealth must act with urgency to resolve this problem that is impacting these critical populations.