Put People First! PA is waging a campaign for the restoration of the Adult Dental Benefit (ADB) to Medicaid. By Anita of the Campaign & Legislative Team

Background: In 2011, Governor Tom Corbett, under direction from the Obama administration, cut the benefit from Medicaid under pressure to cut spending to make up for budget shortfalls. Currently the dental benefits provided under Medicaid in Pennsylvania are limited, with exams, cleanings, and x-rays once every 6 months, one set of dentures for life and important interventions like root canals, crowns, and additional dentures out of reach for recipients. Often under these circumstances, extractions become the primary way of dealing with infected or damaged teeth. Oral health is foundational to the whole body and mind and poor people are being denied this vital care. Since 2018, having learned from our base the pain inflicted from this denial of healthcare, PPF-PA has included the restoration of the Adult Dental Benefit in our yearly campaign plans as a key demand of the powerholders. 

Fighting back in 2023: April 2023 we saw the largest change in the healthcare system of this country with the end of pandemic era protections and mass purge of people from their Medicaid, with over 30 million in the US at risk of being cut. PPF-PA launched a social media campaign called #MedicaidMondays where people shared the importance of Medicaid to our lives. In September of 2023, our organization took action during the Nonviolent Medicaid Army Week of Action. Regional Healthcare Rights Committees held actions with pieces of a quilt made from the #MedicaidMonday stories. On the 20th, our regions caravanned to the Capitol, to join together this quilt of our stories and make demands of the powerholders inside. We met with DHS Secretary Val Arkoosh with demands of: ending the Medicaid cuts; expansion of Medicaid to all PA residents; extension of time to file an appeal from 30 to 60 days; release of information on both the numbers of appeal submission & approvals as well as costs saved under continuous enrollment; and a restoration of the ADB. Sec Arkoosh verbally committed to making the restoration a priority of her budget submitted to the Governor Josh Shapiro. 

Where we’re at now: Our current campaign evolved from these events of our Week of Action. Since our Week of Action, there has been movement in the state legislature around the ADB. House Bill 1417 which would restore dental coverage in Medicaid passed out of the House Health Committee October 18th with bipartisan support. HB 1417 passed in the House and is moving on to the Senate as of this writing. Our next steps involve putting pressure on Gov. Shapiro to include the Adult Dental Benefit in his 2024 budget, set to involve several phases of actions. Our first efforts in this have been letter writing. An organizational sign-on letter was sent by members to organizations, faith communities, and other groups to support.

Click here for organizational letter: https://bit.ly/ADBLetter 
Click here for organizational sign-on: https://bit.ly/OrgSignOnADB 

Personal letters relaying the importance of the adult dental benefit to our lives were also sent through December to the Governor. These personal letters are being documented to build a visual representation in the same vein as the Medicaid Quilt. 

Read members’ stories here.

Where we’re going: In 2024, we’re launching a social media campaign similar to our #MedicaidMondays to make visible our need for the ADB, to put public pressure on the Governor to pass the budget. To ensure the State will adequately fund the ADB restoration, we members of Put People First! PA must keep the pressure on Shapiro, building our base and sharing our stories to transform what is politically possible in this state. Our teeth are not disposable and neither are we.    

Join us in our social media campaign! Share your story!

  • When was the last time you got dental care?
  • What has your experience been with getting dental care?
  • How has not being able to get dental care impacted your health? 
  • How has not being able to get dental care impacted your life (for example, your ability to get a job)?
  • How would your life be different if the dental benefit were in Medicaid/if dental care was a human right?

Share a selfie and a sentence or two with why we must restore the Medicaid Adult Dental Benefit! For more information, check back for our social media guide coming soon!

  1. […] Every Monday Put People First! PA and the Nonviolent Medicaid Army are sharing our stories on dental care and Medicaid. Click here for background on our 5 year dental campaign. […]

Leave a Reply