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Dental benefits for Medicaid-eligible adults vary widely by state

In spite of efforts by dental directors and oral health coalitions to preserve dental services in their states, history has offered many examples of adult dental benefits disappearing from Medicaid programs.

Because adult Medicaid dental benefits are not federally mandated, they often end up on state budget chopping blocks in times of fiscal austerity. Ironically, the care dwindles or disappears when beneficiaries may need them the most.

The lack of coverage and money to pay for care takes a toll on the oral health of low-income adults, with an estimated 42 percent of poor American working-aged adults suffering from untreated tooth decay, according to federal data.

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