Nebraska Legislature Votes 35-0 to Increase Medicaid Dental Fees by 25%

On February 7, the Nebraska legislature passed the first reading on a bill to increase Medicaid dental reimbursement rates by a whopping 25%.  In the only state with one state legislative body, that legislative body passed the bill 35-0.

Recognizes health benefits of proper dental care

In a release on the legislative website, Sen. Lynne Walz, who sponsored the bill, said, “Poor dental health in adults can lead to employment issues, mental health problems, impaired speech and other physical health problems, including heart attack, stroke and dementia…We need to ensure that people on Medicaid are able to confidently walk into a job interview, that their children are able to feel comfortable and able to learn at school and overall lead healthy lives.”

The release further states that “Sen. Ben Hansen, chairperson of the Health and Human Services Committee, spoke in support of the bill, saying an increase in reimbursement rates for dentists has been “a long time coming” and is needed to address the shortage of pediatric dentists in Nebraska. “In my opinion … this is the most important [reimbursement rate] that we can look at as a state,” Hansen said. “If kids’ teeth are not well taken care of by pediatric dentists, it will have lifelong effects on their health.”

Fixing problems

Nebraska has been faced with several challenges in providing dental care for its Medicaid-eligible population that this increase seeks to rectify:

Limited access: Despite some improvement efforts, access to dental care remains a challenge for many Medicaid recipients in Nebraska, particularly in rural areas. This is partly due to a shortage of dentists participating in the program, driven by low reimbursement rates.

High waiting times: Due to limited providers and high demand, patients often face long wait times for appointments, delaying necessary treatment.

Refreshing legislative view

It is refreshing to hear elected representatives advocating fair reimbursement to attract and keep highly skilled healthcare practitioners to care for their Medicaid-eligible children.

Inflation and wage increases crushing in Texas, dwindling patient rolls

Texas dentists are being crushed by wage increases necessary to maintain trained staff and inflated costs for PPE and other supplies.

Not only have costs increased but patient rolls have dwindled.  The loss of close to 1 million Medicaid-eligible children from Texas Medicaid rolls, mostly for procedural reasons, is impacting providers.  And the state had its highest ever budget surplus in the last legislative session.

It would be nice to see something similar in Texas.


2 Responses

  • It would also be nice to see Texas recognize how successful dental therapists have been, in AK and MN, and encourage their being in teams, supervised by dentists and focused upon improved access for under served dentally needy populations.

    There is not a shred of evidence, with which to deny their safety, competency within scope, or their effectiveness.

    The provision of basic clinical dental procedures simply does not require eight years of college and dental school. School based health services, community based and even workplace based, could be provided by supervised, CODA educated therapists.

    If oral health is essential for health, why not get serious about it?

    • I meant TDMR, not Texas per se, as far as recognizing dental therapists, as a means to improve access. Texas and certainly ND, which apparently recognizes how great the need is, for more access to dental care, should indeed consider what the outcomes have been, in AK and MN.

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