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Feb. 16, 2011
TOPEKA After talks with the Brownback administration, the Kansas Dental Association has withdrawn its proposal that the state expand Medicaid coverage to include basic, preventive tooth care for low-income adults.
The association just two weeks ago included the recommendation as part of its plan for addressing the state's dentist shortage.
KHI News file photo
Kevin Robertson, the association's executive director, told members of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee that after discussions with various administration and agency officials, his association decided to ask legislators to remove the Medicaid provisions from Senate Bill 132, which the association earlier had introduced.
“We’re still working on all the things in the bill, we’re just piecing them out in a different manner now as opposed to putting them all into SB 132,” Robertson told KHI News Service after the hearing.
The Medicaid expansion was the most expensive element of the association's proposal. Robertson said he discussed it yesterday with Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who is leading the administration's effort to "remake" Medicaid so that it costs the state less.
“He discussed quite bluntly with us the situation with Medicaid and the budget," Robertson told the committee. "We understand that there are issues with adult expansion of that program. Though we believe it is important, we certainly understand the political realities of that.”
He said the association now plans to explore a provision in the federal health reform law that could allow Kansas to expand Medicaid dental coverage in 2014 with the state paying just 10 percent of the cost, compared to about 40 percent currently.
The remaining provisions in the bill are:
• Restore funding — $70,000 annually — for a program that helped cover lab fees associated with donated dental care for the elderly and disabled.
• Expand the list of procedures that dental hygienists are allowed to perform in schools and at nursing homes, county health departments, and safety-net clinics.
Currently, hygienists are allowed to provide preventive care such as cleanings and fluoride treatments in a dentist’s office. If they want to see patients in safety-net clinics, jails, schools and other locations where dental care otherwise might be hard to get, they’re expected to apply for an extended-care permit.
Advocates for the uninsured have an alternate hygienist proposal, HB 2280, which would allow for licensing of mid-level dental practitioners who would be allowed to perform basic drilling, filling and restorative services, which is more than hygienists currently are allowed to do.
HB 2280 — supported by Kansas Action for Children and Oral Health Kansas — is scheduled for hearing in the House Health and Human Services Committee on Thursday.
A third dental proposal — HB 2241, which would allow limited dental franchising in the state — is scheduled to be worked also Thursday in the House HHS Committee.
The hearing on SB 132 was closed today with no further action taken.