Dental disease remains a significant problem for children in Medicaid. Although dental services are a mandatory benefit for the 30 million children served by Medicaid, these children often experience elevated levels of dental problems and have difficulty finding dentists to treat them. In testimony before your Subcommittee last September, we reported that children in Medicaid were almost twice as likely to have untreated cavities as children with private insurance and that the percentage of children in Medicaid who received any dental care was far below the Department of Health and Human Service's (HHS) target for low-income children. Concerns about low-income children's poor oral health, inadequate access to dental services, low payment rates for dental services, and insufficient federal and state efforts to address oral health access problems are long-standing. During subcommittee hearings in May 2007 and February 2008, you raised concerns about the effectiveness of federal oversight of state Medicaid dental services by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that oversees Medicaid at the federal level. This testimony is based on our report, released at this hearing, Medicaid: State and Federal Actions Have Been Taken to Improve Children's Access to Dental Services, but Gaps Remain.
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