Children’s Oral Health Bills Moving through Washington Legislature
Two bills that could potentially expand children’s access to oral health care providers are moving through the Washington State Legislature, according to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). The bills, HB 2905 and SB 5976, would make adjustments to the Access to Baby & Child Dentistry Program (ABCD), a Washington state program that offers enhanced fees to service providers of Medicaid-eligible children under the age of 6. The program contracts with the University of Washington School of Dentistry and the Arcora Foundation to provide management services, recruitment and training of providers. All providers must be ABCD certified to participate in the program.
HB 2905 passed the State House on February 16. This bill would require the program to develop a local access to program fund allocation formula, key deliverables and target metrics for increased outreach and provider engagement and support. The goals of the development of the formula, deliverables and metrics are to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in access to care and oral health outcomes, and to increase the percentage of Medicaid-enrolled children under the age of 2 accessing dental care.
SB 5976 passed the State Senate on February 12. This bill would attempt to expand coverage under the ABCD program to children with disabilities up to age 13. Legislation was passed in 2018 that required the ABCD program to begin providing coverage to this population, but the bill’s language made it difficult to receive approval for the expansion from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The bill would adjust the language of current statute to help make CMS approval more likely.