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Some Lawmakers Want To Restore Dental Benefits To Medi-Cal

Some 3 million Californians on Medi-Cal may get their dental benefits back if some Democratic lawmakers have their way.

— Now that California's budget is back in the black, some Democratic lawmakers want to restore Medi-Cal benefits that were cut during the recession. Dental services for adults are one item under consideration.

Photo by Terry J Alcorn

Dental care for adults was cut from Medi-Cal during the recession.

California cut dental benefits from the Medi-Cal program in 2009. That means some 3 million low-income adults have no coverage for basic dental services like exams, fillings or dentures. Going to an emergency room is one of their only options.

Anthony Wright, executive director of the non-profit group Health Access California, said restoring dental benefits makes sense, especially since there are federal matching funds available.

"Not only would we get a one-to-one match for people who are currently eligible for Medi-Cal, but for the folks who are newly eligible under the affordable care act, that would be paid for 100 percent by the federal government," Wright explained.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said reinstating Medi-Cal dental benefits is one of his priorities. Assembly Speaker John Perez, on the other hand, has pledged to restore little, if any, of the spending that was cut in the last few years.

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