Last week the Green Mountain Care Board narrowly voted to not include dental coverage for adults in the state’s new “health benefit exchange”. Required by the federal Affordable Care Act, the exchange is the online marketplace where Vermonters who are self insured or work for small businesses will get their health care coverage starting in 2014. This vote came after months of deliberations on the overall benefits package, as well as a two week delay to review the 1600 comments, half from VPIRG supporters, calling for the Board to deem dental care for adults an essential benefit that would be covered by all plans in the exchange.
Board Chair Anya Rader Wallack said that though this might not be the right time to add dental benefits, that does not mean they will not be included in Vermont’s future single payer system, stating that Green Mountain Care “is really trying to redesign the system so that we can cover the core needs of Vermonters and a pretty compelling case has been made to us that this is a core need.”
VPIRG Consumer Protection Advocate Falko Schilling commented on the Board’s decision saying, “We are disappointed with the Board’s decision not to include adult dental in the essential health benefits, but we appreciate their recognition that this is a serious issue we need to tackle as a state.” Schilling went on to say “70,000 Vermonters go without the dental care every year because they can’t afford it. More and more people are being forced to seek dental care in emergency rooms where they receive inadequate treatment at almost 10 times the price.”