This summer, a federal Judge halted implementation of the Bevin Administration’s 1115 Medicaid Waiver, known as, Kentucky HEALTH, and yesterday, the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) issued its re-approval.

We appreciate that the 1115 Waiver protects children, pregnant women, former foster youth up to age 26, and adults covered through SSA 1931 from the potential negative impacts of premiums, reduced benefit packages, and lockout periods. However, the re-approval of Kentucky HEALTH will eliminate dental coverage from the standards benefits package for many Kentucky adults’ receiving Medicaid, and will be an earned benefit.

As statewide oral health advocates, we’ve repeatedly stated Kentucky Oral Health Coalition’s firm stance on the inclusion of dental coverage as a key component in the standard benefits package for the adult Medicaid population because it is a cost-effective measure to cover essential care. Receiving routine dental care allows for chronic disease management and early detection of chronic diseases that display symptoms in the mouth. The health of the mouth impacts the health of the whole body — it doesn’t make sense to separate healthcare. Given our historic issues with poor oral health in Kentucky, we have made strides towards improvement in oral health by increasing access and preventive services, and Kentucky HEALTH should be a catalyst rather than an inhibitor of the progress.

We hope and expect the Administration emphasizes the importance of dental coverage for all Kentuckians as Medicaid transitions take place in 2019.