HB 511 (Crossover): Maryland Medical Assistance Program – Former Foster Care Adolescents – Dental Care

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public-policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington.

HB 511, as amended, would authorize the Maryland Medical Assistance Program (MMAP) to provide dental care for former foster care adolescents within the constraints of the State budget and as permitted by federal law.

The Catholic Church consistently supports legislation that ensures access to quality, affordable, life-giving health care for all –including dental care because dental care is closely tied to the health of the rest of the body. In a recent briefing, Maryland Dental Action Coalition noted that dental care for low-income people is a fragile safety net and, generally speaking, Maryland is lagging behind other states in providing dental coverage. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there were 2.3 million dental-related emergency department visits from 2009 to 2010 and the number was highest among adults aged 18–44 years. Emergency rooms are generally not equipped to get to the root of dental issues; the focus is on treating symptoms (e.g.: pain) since they may not have capability to treat the actual dental problem (e.g.: infected tooth). Investing in regular dental care for former foster care adolescents through MMAP would decrease the occurrence and costs of emergency room visits for dental issues, and improve the oral health of many Marylanders.

The Conference appreciates your consideration and urges your favorable support of HB 511.