Press statement from Dr. Neetu Singh, Oral Health Program Director of Health Care For All, regarding the Massachusetts house ways and the means committee proposed budget for FY21

Boston — “Today, the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee took a tremendous step forward to improve oral health in the Commonwealth by including MassHealth coverage of root canal treatments (endodontics) and crowns (prosthodontics) in the FY2021 state budget proposal. Endodontic and prosthodontic services allow injured or diseased teeth to be repaired instead of extracted. After 10 years, reinstating coverage of these dental services will finally reestablish a fully comprehensive MassHealth adult dental program.

“We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Chair Aaron Michlewitz, the members of the Committee and the House leadership for taking this decisive action and championing oral health.

“Good oral health is a critical component of a person’s overall health and well-being across the age spectrum. Without access and coverage of appropriate dental care, many people living with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension see their conditions worsen, and dental treatment becomes increasingly more invasive and costly the longer it is delayed.

“In 2010, significant state budget shortfalls negatively impacted the MassHealth adult dental program, severely limiting coverage to dental cleanings and extractions only. These budget cuts were devastating for many Massachusetts residents, particularly those who were already underserved and facing multiple barriers to accessing timely and affordable dental care. In subsequent years, there has been incremental restoration of MassHealth coverage for adult dental services, including fillings and full dentures. Notably, in 2019, coverage for the treatment of gum (periodontal) disease for adults was restored.

“As the FY2021 state budget process moves ahead, we strongly encourage the Massachusetts Senate to continue investing in oral health care and include coverage of these vital services within their proposed budget as well. The existence of a fully comprehensive MassHealth adult dental program is long overdue and we look forward to it becoming a reality in the very near future.”

Health Care For All advocates for health justice in Massachusetts by working to promote health equity and ensure coverage and access for all.