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Delta Dental Urges Congress: Pay Attention to Oral Health During Reform Bill Reconciliation

Thursday, January 7, 2010 Health Insurance News J E 4
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~Dental Coverage for Up to 50 Million Children Could Be Disrupted~

OAK BROOK, Ill., Jan. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congress is very close to improving oral health for those children without dental coverage today, but without a few small, significant changes, final health care reform legislation could actually disrupt dental coverage for millions of children who already have it now.

That's the assessment of Delta Dental Plans Association President Kim Volk, who is urging members of Congress to consider key oral health provisions as the House and Senate reconcile their differing health care reform bills.

"Delta Dental is pleased that both the House and Senate health care reform bills seek to expand access to oral health care," said Volk. "However, without changes, both of these bills will seriously, and inadvertently, disrupt the primary dental coverage enjoyed by millions of Americans today and undo decades of progress in improving the nation's oral health."

Volk urged Congress to address key dental-related issues as it irons out the differences between House and Senate bills.

"First, we ask Congress to allow for vigorous competition among different types of insurance companies, including stand-alone dental carriers and the dental-focused carriers," Volk said. "Unfortunately, the House bill would force families to buy children's dental insurance from medical insurers – without the option to purchase from more experienced and specialized dental plans. It would also force parents with family dental coverage today to purchase two dental plans – one for their children and another for themselves. Ultimately, the House bill would disrupt coverage for an estimated 40 to 50 million children across the country."

Volk noted that the Senate bill allows for competition inside the new health insurance Exchange but fails to assure it for those who currently have dental coverage.

In addition, Delta Dental is urging Congress to include language in the final legislation that improves transparency and preserves consumer options by requiring separate pricing of pediatric dental plans. "Separate pricing will give consumers the opportunity to compare costs and determine which dental plan best meets their needs and those of their families," Volk said.

Volk also expressed concern with the Senate's proposal to impose an excise tax on employer-provided health benefits that exceed a maximum threshold.

"Dental insurance is not getting the same attention in the health care reform debate, in part because dental benefits – and their prevention-based model – are examples of what works in health care. "Any cap on employer-paid dental premiums would erect new barriers to access and seriously erode decades of progress in oral health," Volk said. "Both chambers of Congress have sought to make prevention a focus in health care reform. That's exactly what 170 million Americans enjoy with their current dental plans."

"Congress is close to making great strides in children's oral health," Volk said. "With a few straightforward changes in the current bills, the House and Senate can avoid disruptive, if unintentional, consequences – and build on this nation's hard-won gains in oral health."

About Delta Dental

DDPA represents the nation's largest and most experienced dental benefit plans consisting of 39 independent dental service corporations that operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Most of our plans are offered separately from medical coverage as stand-alone coverage from group health plans. We provide coverage to over 54 million people, enrolled in 89,000 dental plan groups that are administered locally or nationally for employers.

SOURCE Delta Dental

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