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Challenge To Medicaid Dental Contracts Scrapped

stethoscope and calculator stock photo resting on medicare application paperwork.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Tampa-based Argus Dental and Vision withdrew a legal challenge to recently awarded contracts in Florida’s new Medicaid dental program, clearing the way for the state to move ahead with what one official described as the “broadest dental package ever available” to Medicaid beneficiaries. 

A review of Division of Administrative Hearings records shows the company withdrew its complaint Friday, 10 days after UnitedHealthcare of Florida withdrew a similar administrative challenge.

State Agency for Health Care Administration spokeswoman Mallory McManus said Argus voluntarily dismissed the suit and that there was not a settlement agreement.

Argus and UnitedHealthcare were challenging the state’s decision to award Medicaid dental contracts to three providers: DentaQuest of Florida, Liberty Dental Plan of Florida and Managed Care of North America, also known as MCNA Dental.

In the past, dental care was included as a covered benefit that health plans in the Medicaid managed-care program were required to provide.

A legislative tussle erupted in 2016, however, between Medicaid HMOs, the Florida Dental Association and MCNA Dental, among others, about whether to carve out dental care from the Medicaid managed-care program.

MCNA Dental, a Fort Lauderdale-based company that had lost its state dental contracts after the statewide mandatory program, hired former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lobby Gov Rick Scott on the carve-out issue.

HMOs hoped the governor would veto the dental carve-out if it came his way. Instead, he signed it into law.

McManus said the new dental contracts mean patients will have access to the “broadest dental package ever available to Florida Medicaid recipients.”

And as part of its negotiations with the dental plans, the state is requiring them to enter into contracts with health plans that participate in the Medicaid managed care program.