Delta Dental tapped for new Medicaid dental service

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Nov. 3—Delta Dental Plan of New Hampshire will provide dental services to adult Medicaid recipients under a nearly $34 million contract the N.H. Executive Council approved Wednesday.

This arises from bipartisan legislation Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law July 1. Identical bills emerged from the N.H. Senate and House to add the basic dental-care benefit. Democratic state Rep. Joe Schapiro of Keene was prime sponsor of the House measure.

Under the contract approved Wednesday, the new benefit must be available by next April 1.

About three-quarters of the contract cost will come from federal funds and, for the first three years, the rest will come from a $21 million settlement the state reached early this year with Centene Corp. over pharmacy benefit services costs in the Medicaid program.

The contract runs through March 31, 2026, with the option to renew for up to two additional years.

Covered services include oral examinations, X-rays, teeth cleaning, topical fluoride, restorative services such as filling cavities and oral surgery to relieve pain, eliminate infection or prevent tooth loss.

After Sununu signed the legislation, Schapiro said this new benefit will bring increased dignity and decreased pain to the 85,000 people who could qualify for care.

On Wednesday, Henry Lipman, the state's Medicaid director, said many New Hampshire dentists participate in one of Delta Dental's networks and that this positions the company well to take on the expanded Medicaid service.

Dr. Thomas Filip of Keene's Noble Dental told The Sentinel in September he was hopeful Delta Dental would win the bid. He said the firm has a strong track record with the benefits it offers and could leverage its existing network of providers to encourage others to participate.

Councilor Joe Kenney said the benefit is important to public wellbeing.

"As part of the human condition, oral health is so important," said Kenney, a Republican from Union.

"I have personally dealt with constituents many years ago, one who had a traumatic oral health situation that kept him out of work for months. I had another woman who had oral health issues where her teeth were so bad that she hadn't been on a date in five years."

Oral health also has an effect on one's personality, he noted.

"Once you have oral health it makes you want to smile," he said. "It makes you feel comfortable, gives you self-esteem and allows you to be a productive, working member of society."

An actuarial report on the legislation found that the expanded Medicaid benefit would cost the state $6.9 million yearly, which would be matched with $17.5 million in federal funds. For comparison, the entire state budget is about $6.5 billion per year.

The individual benefit will be capped at $1,500 per year, excluding preventive services. Rules will be written to require some cost sharing for patients with family incomes above the federal poverty level.

Rick Green can be reached at or 603-355-8567.