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2021: A Year of Progress for State Medicaid Oral Health Coverage and Opportunities for Bigger, Bolder Federal Investment


In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic disrupted legislative sessions and state budgets, forcing state policymakers to make tough decisions in response to the drastic decline in revenue stemming from the economic impact of COVID-19. Multiple state legislatures considered drastic budget cuts to critical oral health programs in shortsighted attempts to save money.

As the pandemic dragged into 2021, advocates showed up and successfully advanced oral health policy. Nonetheless, too many state policymakers have not been willing to take action to advance Medicaid oral health.

This year’s actions by advocates during state legislative sessions provide lessons learned on pathways to improve Medicaid adult dental benefits. However, even as progress is made, oral health coverage for adults will continue to be at risk when future budget cuts arise because states are not required to offer it. The outcomes of the past year underscore the importance of, and demand for, bigger, bolder federal investments in oral health coverage to provide comprehensive, long-term, and stable solutions.

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