Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Childrens' Dental Health Protected

American Dental Association
The House and Senate have passed versions of legislation reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, but both met with disapproval from the White House, which objects to expanding the program. House and Senate conferees will meet this month to iron out differences. Whether the president follows through on his veto threat remains to be seen. Our grassroots advocacy team, responding to a series of ADA action alerts, was instrumental in ensuring that important dental provisions remained in the respective bills. Not only were our efforts successful, but several members of Congress spoke during the debates about the need for dental care for SCHIP-eligible children. The most important provision in the House version is a federal dental guarantee for eligible children. Most states currently offer a dental benefit, but it's not required under federal law. The Senate bill is more complicated. While it doesn’t include the dental guarantee provision, the Senate did include $200 million in grants for states to improve SCHIP dental programs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last month surprised enrollees, patient advocates and state government officials with new, tougher guidelines on how states may use SCHIP funds to pay for health (and dental) benefits for children in families with incomes greater than 250% of the federal poverty level. The new guidelines are part of the Bush Administration's efforts to refocus SCHIP on lower-income people. Some state officials believe the new regulation sets unattainable requirements and would force at least 12 states to modify plans to revoke coverage and in the process lower the amount of federal dollars those states receive. We’re reviewing this new regulation to determine its full impact. This development also could affect SCHIP legislation currently under consideration in Congress.

Copyright © 2007 American Dental Association. Reproduction or republication strictly prohibited without prior written permission.


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