Illinois Cuts Medicaid Dental Service Benefits

In May 2012, an attempt to reduce budget deficits in Illinois led the state’s legislature to approve a $1.6 billion cut to the state’s Medicaid program, including drastic cuts to adult dental services covered by Medicaid.

According to the Illinois State Dental Society and the Chicago Dental Society, the cuts to Medicaid mean that the adult Medicaid program will largely be “emergency only,” paying only for emergency x-rays and extractions rather than the previously-covered restorative services and dentures.

Additionally, eligibility for Medicaid will be tougher to achieve for low-income individuals, as they must now be lower than 133% of the federal poverty level (the previous eligibility was 185% of federal poverty level).  This change will result in hundreds of thousands of adults who will no longer be eligible for Medicaid, according to the ISDS and CDS.

As we’ve learned in a recent Pew report on Emergency Room costs for dental services, when states cut preventive and restorative Medicaid dental care, they often end up paying more in ER costs than they’ve “saved” through cuts.  ER dental care generally costs about 10 times as much as care in a dentist’s office and it often doesn’t address the cause of tooth decay and pain.

Help Us Speak Up for Those Without a Voice

  1. Review the list of the Illinois House and Senate “No” and “Yes” votes
  2. Call or send a fax to those House and Senate members who voted “No” thanking them for their commitment to maintaining the right kind of Medicaid dental care for vulnerable older adults
  3. Call or send a fax to those House and Senate members who voted “Yes” asking them to consider the negative health effects of their actions on those most vulnerable in our communities.  In the long run, we’ll likely be paying more for emergency treatment than what was saved by passing this bill.