Bill Could Carve Out Medicaid Dental Benefits

Feb 10, 2016

Despite opposition from the committee chairman, a House panel Tuesday approved a bill that could lead to revamping children's dental care in the Medicaid program.

The House Health & Human Services Committee voted 11-2 to approve the bill (HB 819), sponsored by state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami. Chairman Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, and state Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, cast the dissenting votes.

The bill stems from the state's move in recent years to a statewide Medicaid managed-care system. As part of that move, managed-care plans are required to provide dental services.

But the bill could lead to providing the services through separate dental plans, a move known as carving out the benefits from the managed-care plans. The bill would require a report to be submitted to the governor and legislative leaders by Dec. 1 about dental services.

If the Legislature does not take action on the report's findings by July 1, 2017 to continue providing dental services through the Medicaid managed-care program, the state would move forward with providing the services through the separate dental plans.

Diaz pointed, in part, to a national trend of using the separate plans.

"This is about the kids,'' Diaz said. "This bill has always been about the kids."

But Brodeur said he was concerned that the bill would automatically lead to using separate dental plans if the Legislature doesn't act next year.

"It might be the right choice, but I don't know that for sure," Brodeur said.

The bill is now ready to go to the full House.