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Senate Passes Bill to Fix Adult Denture Program

Seniors Able to Access Both Halves of Their Dentures; State Maintains Cost Control

(JUNEAU, AK) - Feb. 26, the Alaska Senate passed Senate Bill 199, "Medicaid Coverage for Dentures," sponsored by Senator Johnny Ellis.  The bill changes the Medicaid Adult Dental program to allow eligible seniors to access two years of benefits so that they can afford a full set of dentures in one year. 

"Allowing seniors to 'forward-fund' a relatively high-cost procedure like dentures is a win-win-win for the state, the providers, and seniors," said Senator Ellis.  "We all benefit when services can be provided in the most medically effective and most cost effective way possible."

The Medicaid Adult Dental program was created in 2006 to expand coverage from emergency care to include preventative and restorative care, including dentures.   The program allows a maximum of $1,150 in benefits per patient per year, a level set at the cost of one half of a set of dentures.  That has not proven to be practical, and this legislation allows a patient to access two years of funding (without additional state money required) to receive a full set of dentures at the most medically appropriate time.  

"Dentures are a costly and complicated procedure," said Dr. Dave Logan of the Alaska Dental Society.  "If dentists can provide upper and lower dentures at one time, we will improve patients' oral health, cut our own overhead, and potentially save money for the state by eliminating unnecessary travel costs and reducing ER and oral surgery usage for routine cases that become emergencies because of delay."  Other supporters of the legislation include AARP-Alaska, the Alaska Primary Care Association, the Alaska Public Health Association, and the state's joint advocacy boards.

Senator Ellis was joined by 12 cosponsors of both parties and both caucuses as the bill moved through the Senate.  It now goes on to the House of Representatives, where a companion bill, HB 265 by Representatives Gardner, Petersen, and Gara, has been heard in the House Health and Social Services Committee.

For more information, contact Max Hensley in Senator Ellis' office at 907-465-3704.  max.hensley@legis.state.ak.us

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