VCU Professor Studies the Impact of Adult Medicaid Benefits for Dental Care
Recognizing oral health as a crucial element of overall well-being, Shillpa Naavaal, BDS, MS, MPH, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) School of Dentistry, has secured a nearly $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a 5-year study titled “Role of Comprehensive Adult Medicaid Dental Benefits in Improving Oral Health and Reducing Disparities among Adults and Children.” The research focuses on the impact of Medicaid’s expanded dental coverage for adults in Virginia, a policy change implemented in 2021. Previously, such benefits were restricted to children and pregnant women. Naavaal’s comprehensive analysis, utilizing administrative claims data and advanced econometric models, aims to assess the demand for dental services among adults, its effect on emergency department visits, and its indirect impact on pediatric dental services within Medicaid. The study not only seeks to shed light on individual and family oral health improvements but also aims to provide actionable evidence to enhance the policy, identify strategies to reduce disparities in dental care access, and offer valuable insights for Medicaid programs nationwide. The overarching goal is to develop targeted programs and assess healthcare delivery models that can effectively enhance oral health among Medicaid members, particularly focusing on racial and ethnic disparities within this demographic. Click here to read more.