RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- There will be a big boost for dental Medicaid reimbursement rates when Virginia’s new budget goes into effect.

The Virginia Dental Association says the budget includes a 30 percent increase in these rates, which will support the oral health of residents.

According to a release, more than $116 million in the new state and federal funding will help to address the gap between reimbursement rates through the Medicaid program and private insurance.

That gap has been growing since 2005.

Association leaders say the estimated cost of providing dental care has gone up by more than 60 percent since then, but Medicaid reimbursement rates were unchanged.

“Expanding Medicaid reimbursements is a huge ‘win’ for the oral health of Virginians,” said Scott Berman, DDS, MS, VDA president. “Oral health is integral to overall health, and this funding will support access to health care for vulnerable Virginians.” 

The release says more than 924,000 Virginia adults are members of Medicaid with access to comprehensive dental services under a benefit that went into effect last year. Such coverage includes preventative and diagnostic treatments, oral surgery, prosthodontics, and more.

“As dental offices across Virginia grapple with sharply rising costs, staffing challenges and continued impacts from the pandemic, the growing gap between the cost of providing care and reimbursements has prevented many dentists from participating in the Medicaid program,” said Ryan Dunn, VDA CEO. “We’re grateful to the legislators who prioritized oral health care in this budget and will continue to work with lawmakers and regulatory bodies to address barriers to providing essential dental care.” 

Since August 2021, the VDA says the number of adults getting restorative treatments has outnumbered the number of those who are getting teeth extracted.

For more information on Medicaid coverage of dental services, click here.