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Illinois Senate wants to expand Medicaid dental coverage

Illinois Watchdog.Org

Wednesday, May 9, 2018  |  Article  |  By Benjamin Yount

Medicaid, Managed Care Syverson, Dave--State Senate, 35
Illinois' Medicaid program could soon get larger.

The Illinois Senate last week voted to expand the state's Medicaid program to offer dental coverage to everyone who is Medicaid eligible.

Right now, only children and pregnant moms can get their teeth cleaned and cavities filled.

Democratic state Sen Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, said the expansion would cover more than 600,000 able-bodied, single men added to Illinois' Medicaid program under Obamacare.

"We want to make sure that everyone in our state who is Medicaid eligible gets immediate preventative dental care," Aquino said on the Senate floor.

The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services says expanding dental coverage could cost as much as $26 million a year.

Republicans, including Rockford Sen. Dave Syverson, said that's not a cost that Illinois needs to pay.

Syverson said many of Illinois' private Medicaid managers already offer dental care, at no cost to the state.

"A number of the managed care organizations already do this themselves, and they pay for it," Syverson said. "They do it as a marketing tool to try and get more people to get into their MCO."

Aquino's plan doesn't limit the cost or scope of the kind of work that Medicaid patients get, or how often.

Democrats used their numbers to push the plan, SB 2429, through on a 39-14 vote. The Illinois House will get the proposal next.