RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s new budget that goes into effect on Friday will include a boost in funding to Medicaid for dental care for the first time in 17 years.
The budget will include a 30% increase to dental Medicaid reimbursement rates, which means dentist will be paid more for treating Medicaid patients.
The Virginia Dental Association (VDA) is calling the funding boost an important investment to support the oral health of Virginians.
VDA estimates the cost of providing dental care has jumped more than 60% since 2005, while Medicaid reimbursement rates have remained unchanged during the same time.
More than 924,000 Virginians have access to comprehensive dental services under Medicaid, which includes exams, X-rays and dentures.
Since July 1, 2021, VDA reports that approximately 158,000 of the adults eligible have received some form of treatment. The number of adults receiving restorative treatment has outnumbered the number of adults receiving just extractions.
Dr. Randy Adams owns and operates a pediatric dentist office on East Broad Street in Richmond.
“Number one, it’s a big deal that they’re giving us the increase in pay. It’s going to open it up for a lot for a lot more people. Hopefully, the increase in dental compensation will entice a lot more dentist to sign up and give patients a lot more choices,” Adams explained.
The longtime Richmond doctor knows firsthand why dental care is so important. What happens in your mouth can impact your overall health.
He applauded the extra funding.
“I think it’s going to be outstanding and the reason I think it’s going to be outstanding — it’s going to afford people to find a dentist and get some dental work done,” Adams explained. “I think 30% is a good starting point. Keep in mind we haven’t had a raise in 17 years, and I think now is about time and we need to build for the future.”
The budget also includes funding for the state to cover necessary general anesthesia and hospitalization, or facility charges, for Medicaid-eligible children under age 10 receiving dental services who require such services.
People who qualify for Medicaid can find dentists at the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services website.
“As dental offices across Virginia grapple with sharply rising costs, staffing challenges and continued impacts from the pandemic, the growing gap between the cost of providing care and reimbursements has prevented many dentists from participating in the Medicaid program,” said Ryan Dunn, CEO of the Virginia Dental Association. “We’re grateful to the legislators who prioritized oral healthcare in this budget and will continue to work with lawmakers and regulatory bodies to address barriers to providing essential dental care.”