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Dental care could be covered for some Maryland Medicaid recipients under bill passed by General Assembly

Some adults who are insured under Maryland's Medicaid program could soon be covered for routine dental care for the first time under a pilot program the General Assembly approved Saturday.

For now, Medicaid only covers dental care for children and emergency room dental care for adults. In January, lawmakers had proposed expanding dental coverage to all adults on Medicaid, but the legislation was pared back to instead test the policy with the pilot program.

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The bill, estimated to cost the state as much as $10 million a year as long as the pilot continues, now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature or veto.

The legislation does not dictate the program's design, including how many people to include or what parts of the state to launch it in. It does require state health officials to apply for permission for the program from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by Sept. 1.

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The cost of expanding dental coverage to all Medicaid recipients was a concern for policymakers. Hogan administration officials estimated it would cost the state and federal governments $50 million to $160 million a year, while nonpartisan legislative analysts pegged the price tag at $34.6 million a year by 2023.

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