Health and Human Services

Medicaid dental reimbursement increase advanced

Lawmakers gave first-round approval Feb. 7 to a bill that seeks to increase access to dental services for Nebraska Medicaid recipients.

Sen. Lynne Walz
Sen. Lynne Walz

LB358, sponsored by Fremont Sen. Lynne Walz, would increase the reimbursement rate for dental services provided under Medicaid by 25%. Walz said poor dental health in adults can lead to employment issues, mental health problems, impaired speech and other physical health problems, including heart attack, stroke and dementia.

“We need to ensure that people on Medicaid are able to confidently walk into a job interview, that their children are able to feel comfortable and able to learn at school and overall lead healthy lives,” she said.

Blair Sen. Ben Hansen, chairperson of the Health and Human Services Committee, spoke in support of the bill, saying an increase in reimbursement rates for dentists has been “a long time coming” and is needed to address the shortage of pediatric dentists in Nebraska.

“In my opinion … this is the most important [reimbursement rate] that we can look at as a state,” Hansen said. “If kids’ teeth are not well taken care of by pediatric dentists, it will have lifelong effects on their health.”

Senators voted 35-0 to advance the bill to select file.

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