More than three years of hard work and collaboration by MDAC members, partners, and stakeholders culminated on May 15, 2018 as Governor Larry Hogan signed SB 284 – Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Dental Coverage for Adults – Pilot Program into law. This major legislative victory is another significant step towards the ultimate goal of a Medicaid adult dental benefit that will enable participating adults to establish a dental home, obtain preventive care, and avert costly dental conditions.
During the 2019 legislative session, MDAC worked to keep access to oral health care top of mind with lawmakers. MDAC Executive Director Mary Backley testified before both the Senate Finance and House Health and Government Operations committees in support of SB 158/HB 332, the Community Dental Clinics Grant Program. The bill, sponsored by oral health champions Senator Guy Guzzone (D-Howard County) and Delegate Mike McKay (R-Washington and Allegany Counties), passed (nearly) unanimously and was signed by the Governor on May 13, 2019.
A key goal for this legislative session was to ensure that legislators are aware of the need for Medicaid adult dental coverage for all eligible adults in Maryland. This was accomplished when MDAC Executive Director Mary Backley and representatives from the Maryland Department of Health briefed the House Public Health Subcommittee on implementation of the adult dental waiver program, including plans for the Medicaid collaborative.
All in all, it was a highly productive legislative session for oral health stakeholders with the passage of the following legislation:
- HB 332/SB 158 – Maryland Department of Health – Community Dental Clinics Grant Program: Supports safety net providers in building dental capacity by paying for equipment, renovations, and construction. The bill supports implementation of the Medicaid adult dental waiver program, and complements the existing capital grants program for FQHCs. Beginning in fiscal year 2021, providers will be able to apply to the Maryland Department of Health for funding.
- HB 738 – Dental Hygienist – Scope of Practice – Practice Settings under General Supervision: Expanded the settings in which dental hygienists can practice under general supervision to include physician offices providing primary or prenatal care, medical day, and group homes.