TennCare officials say they’re on track to provide dental coverage to all members starting Jan. 1. The state’s Medicaid agency is one of the last in the country to cover dental work for adults.
Tennessee had already expanded dental benefits to pregnant people. The new benefits will cover the remaining roughly 600,000 adults on TennCare. And while many states just cover emergency dental work, TennCare is going to offer comprehensive care, like cleanings and x-rays.
“Members should be looking for a welcome information pack that comes to them in December that will outline how to find a dentist and get services,” TennCare chief medical officer Dr. Victor Wu said during Friday’s budget hearings with Gov. Bill Lee.
For many years, Republican lawmakers rebuffed requests to add dental coverage primarily because of the cost. But this latest proposal came from Lee, who put $25 million in his budget proposal. He’s come around to survey data that shows poor oral health is an economic drag on many Tennessee families, launching the the Healthy Smiles Initiative last year.