Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106
03/18/2010 03:00 PM House HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES
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SB 199-MEDICAID COVERAGE FOR DENTURES 3:07:49 PM CO-CHAIR KELLER announced that the first order of business would be SENATE BILL NO. 199, "An Act providing for a two-year funding cycle for medical assistance coverage for dentures." SENATOR JOHNNY ELLIS, Alaska State Legislature, referred to an opinion article that he had written for the "Senior Voice" [Included in the committee packets.] in which he described an incident which had precipitated this legislation. He related that an elderly man, with no teeth, had come to Senator Ellis' Anchorage office after he had visited the Medicaid Adult Dental office. The man relayed that he had requested a set of dentures, but had been told that he could only receive either a set of upper or lower dentures in the same fiscal year. Senator Ellis emphasized that Medicaid Adult Dental was a great program, but that this aspect was not a practical, humane approach. He suggested an improvement to the program which would allow patients to receive a full set of dentures in the same fiscal year, along with preventative dental care. He pointed out that there would not be an increase to cost and he anticipated some future cost savings. He cited the many supporters of SB 199, which included the Alaska Dental Society, AARP, and the Public Health Association. 3:12:30 PM REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON asked why the fiscal note eventually dropped to zero. 3:13:03 PM MAX HENSLEY, Staff to Senator Ellis, Alaska State Legislature, explained that the original two year amount was forward funded to this year, and then, as the beneficiaries utilized the change, benefit costs would return to the regular pattern. 3:14:19 PM REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON asked why this would become a zero fiscal note. MR. HENSLEY explained that the same level of benefits would be paid, but would be in a single year, instead of two consecutive years. He explained that once this was implemented and the cost shift was absorbed, there would no longer be the second year benefit as people would have received a full set of dentures in one fiscal year. 3:15:18 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked to clarify if the bill was all forward looking, and would not have any application to a prior year. MR. HENSLEY replied that this was the intention of the bill, but that Department of Health and Social Services would need to respond. 3:16:43 PM DAVE LOGAN, Dentist, Alaska Dental Society, stated that SB 199 solved a problem. He cited an example of a dental treatment which had required removal of all the teeth, but would not allow for replacement of both the upper and lower dentures. He opined that SB 199 would also save money for the state, as there would be fewer emergency room visits for dental service. 3:19:56 PM REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON asked if Medicaid paid for the entire replacement of dentures. DR. LOGAN said that the Medicaid reimbursement was very close. 3:20:29 PM JON SHERWOOD, Medicaid Special Projects, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), stated that Department of Health and Social Services liked the concept of SB 199. He agreed that there would be an increase of expenditure during the first two years. 3:22:31 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON, referring to page 2 of SB 199 and noting that a person was already eligible for services, asked for a clarification about the eligibility for additional benefits during a two year period, and when it would commence. MR. SHERWOOD replied that DHSS envisioned it for the year the denture was received and the subsequent fiscal year. 3:24:04 PM CO-CHAIR HERRON asked if there were any precedents for this. MR. SHERWOOD offered his belief that this was the first time for imposition of a two year limit, and that this was the only service for a fixed dollar limit, which was unique for Alaska Medicaid. 3:25:09 PM CO-CHAIR KELLER closed public testimony. 3:25:30 PM REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON stated support for SB 199 and offered a story of a 94 year old constituent whom this would affect. 3:25:57 PM REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON moved to report SB 199 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, SB 199 was reported from the House Health and Social Services Standing Committee.