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Partnering with you to help create healthy smiles

Your dental policy brief: Current issues and updates in the news as of February 9

Utah looks to expand Medicaid to cover dental, and a convenience store rethinks its controversial “smile policy.” FYI brings you the biggest dental news stories for February 2023.

Appropriations bill includes new education requirement for DEA registration for dentists

The new omnibus spending bill that passed Congress at the end of 2022 includes the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act, a new law requiring dentists to complete eight hours of training before receiving or renewing a Drug Enforcement Administration registration.

Sheetz reexamines controversial “smile policy”

Sheetz, a chain of 24/7 convenience stores and gas stations headquartered in Altoona, PA, is reviewing a company policy that bars hiring people with visible teeth problems. According to recent reports, the company's employee handbook states "applicants with obvious missing, broken, or badly discolored teeth (unrelated to a disability) are not qualified for employment with Sheetz.” Former employees have stated they feel the policy is “classist” and discriminatory. The public relations department at Sheetz has said that the recent reports have prompted a review of the policy.

Proposed Utah bill would expand Medicaid to cover dental

A measure that would extend dental benefits under Medicaid to adults 21 years of age and older has advanced to the Utah House after passage in the state Senate on January 23.  Under current state law, only certain members, such as those who are pregnant, disabled, blind or age 65 or older, have access to dental benefits through Medicaid. The new law would allow the state to pursue federal waivers that extend dental care to all adults 21 years of age and over who are eligible for Medicaid. If the bill passes, the number of Medicaid members eligible for dental coverage in the state could grow from 70,000 to over 200,000, according to estimates from the University of Utah School of Dentistry.

Congress seeks to improve access to dental care for military

The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act enacted by Congress includes a provision ensuring active-duty military dependents have between two to four dental insurance enrollment options, instead of the currently available single-option carrier, United Concordia. The change has its roots in 2017's transition to United Concordia as carrier, when disruptions to access reportedly "caused a lot of frustration."  The changes are slated to be in place by January 1, 2026.

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