AUGUSTA – A bill on the state level could make sure more Mainers can smile with confidence.
One by one, people concerned about access to dental care dropped off more than 1,000 postcards to Governor Janet Mills’ office.
The cards came from people around the state, who support a bill that would expand Medicaid in Maine to cover routine dental care for adults.
For one Augusta woman, it wasn’t until she got grants at a woman’s shelter that she was able to get her teeth fixed.
“Domestic violence was ultimately the reason that I got help, not a good healthcare system,” said Stephanie Chase, who said getting dentures improved her life.
Currently, MaineCare covers dental services in emergency situations.
“We have a lot of retired people down in Downeast Maine. They are on fixed incomes,” said Sue Drew, a dental hygienist at Eastport Health Care. “They don’t have the accessibility to come in needing large, expensive treatment.”
Dental hygienists said preventative care would save the state money in the long run.
That’s something echoed by lawmakers, but the upfront price tag is a concern.
“I think it would reduce our MaineCare cost overall, so I’ve always supported this bill. Of course the funding is going to be the harder part of it,” said Sen. Marianne Moore (R – Calais).
Supporters said the bill would allow Maine to use matching federal dollars.
“Bad teeth it’s difficult for your overall health…it’s hard to get jobs. It’s hard socially,” said Sen. Geoff Gratwick (D – Bangor), one of the bill’s cosponsors.
A spokesperson for the governor said she appreciates hearing the public’s thoughts and her administration is reviewing the bill.
Mainers will have a chance to voice their opinion directly to lawmakers at the bill’s public hearing on Monday.