The Bulletin Board

Bill to expand dental benefits for Medicaid recipients passes Senate

By: - April 22, 2022 11:39 am
Sen. Cindy Rosenwald on Senate floor

Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat, urges senators to pass legislation that would provide people on Medicaid preventative dental benefits. The bill passed, 24-0. (Screenshot)

Nearly 100,000 Granite Staters on Medicaid appear closer than ever to getting preventative dental benefits with legislation passed Thursday by the Senate in a 24-0 vote. Currently Medicaid dental insurance covers only emergency care such as extractions.

New Hampshire is one of about a dozen states that do not cover preventative dental care for people on Medicaid, which includes low-income and elderly residents, as well as those with disabilities.

It’s the third year in a row similar legislation has come close but failed in the final hours over cost concerns. House Bill 103 takes a new approach by paying for expanded benefits with $21 million in settlement money the state secured in January against a company hired to manage Medicaid pharmacy benefits. 

The bill passed the House in March in a 237-100 vote. It heads next to the Senate Finance Committee with expectations it will pass given that the committee endorsed similar legislation in Senate Bill 422 in February.

“We pass a lot of bills here. Many of them are technical in nature,” Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat and prime sponsor of SB 422, told fellow Senators Thursday. “They make some changes to programs or definitions. Only a few of them have a direct positive impact on people’s lives. And House Bill 103 is one of those few. It will have a direct positive impact on people’s lives.”

Gov. Chris Sununu has said he supports expanding dental benefits but vetoed legislation that would have done so in July 2020, four months into the pandemic, citing cost concerns as the state faced economic uncertainty. 

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.