House Panel Blocks Medicaid Dental Changes

Mar 11, 2015

Credit Dave Buchwald

A House panel Tuesday rejected a proposal to revamp the Medicaid program's system of providing dental services to children.

The House Health Innovation Subcommittee deadlocked 6-6 on the proposal (HB 601), filed by Rep. MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta. A tie kills a bill. 

Under the state's new Medicaid managed-care system, HMOs and other types of managed-care plans are responsible for providing dental services to children.

Magar's bill called for carving out pediatric dental services from the broader Medicaid managed-care system and providing the care through what are known as prepaid dental plans.

Magar and other supporters argued that changing the system would lead to better dental care and help lead to more dentists treating children in Medicaid.

"It's all about taking care of the kids," said Rep. Fred Costello, an Ormond Beach Republican who is a dentist.

But critics, including officials from Medicaid HMOs, said dental services should not be removed from what is designed to be a comprehensive Medicaid managed-care system. They said they were concerned such a change could lead to attempts to carve out other services from the system.

Michael Garner, a lobbyist for health plan Amerigroup Florida, said the number of dentists serving children has increased since the Medicaid managed-care system took effect last year, and he urged lawmakers not to "roll back the clock."