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Rep. Bass Introduces Foster Youth Dental Act of 2020

August 31, 2020
Press Release
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, introduced the bipartisan Foster Youth Dental Act of 2020, which will strengthen dental coverage under the Medicaid program for foster youth by increasing eligibility, providing incentives for dental providers, enhancing outreach efforts for enrollment, and protecting existing coverage for foster youth.

Youth enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP have access to oral health care but the utilization of oral care services varies by state and many foster youth fall through the cracks of care because oral health care is often treated as optional coverage. Tooth decay is the most common chronic condition among US children. The Foster Youth Dental Act seeks to improve continuity of oral health care services for current and eligible former foster youth by expanding the age requirement and providing incentives for dental providers to serve eligible youth.

“Especially in the midst of a global pandemic, it falls incumbent upon Congress to do everything we can to ensure we are providing the nearly half of a million youth in this country’s child welfare system with adequate health care,” said Rep. Bass. “The Foster Youth Dental Act of 2020 combats oral diseases like tooth decay by increasing eligibility for dental protections under Medicaid, providing incentives for dental providers to participate in these programs, enhancing outreach efforts for enrollment, and protecting existing coverage for foster youth. Congress must take up this bipartisan measure to protect our children.”

The Foster Youth Dental Act of 2020 would:

1. Increase eligibility by expanding Medicaid eligibility from 21 years old to 25 years of age for former youth who are eligible for the foster youth Medicaid pathway.

2. Provide incentives for dental providers by:

  • Making the Medicaid reimbursement rate for oral health services provided to eligible patients equal to state’s median private sector dental payment rate.
  • Allowing states to submit to CMS their median private sector dental payment rates.
  • Applying the higher of the state-submitted median private sector dental rate and the national median private sector dental rate. 

3. Enhance outreach efforts for foster youth enrollment in Medicaid by having states establish an outreach and enrollment program, in coordination with the State Title IV-E (foster care) and any other appropriate or interested agencies. States must also establish an outreach program to dental health providers practicing in such State to increase the number of providers available to eligible patients.  

4. Protect existing coverage for foster youth by ensuring that foster youth who move between states don’t lose their Medicaid dental health insurance.