Higher education is typically associated with spending a lot of money, but a new bill that was passed by Utah’s state senators involving the University of Utah will actually save people money. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the University of Utah’s new dentistry school is in need of patients to give students some hands-on experience, and their needs will benefit local blind and disabled Medicaid recipients.
The bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate 24-0 at the end of January, will allow Medicaid to again provide dental care services to blind and disabled people, with the stipulation that the school will cover most of the actual care.
“It is a partial restoration of dental benefits that has been previously offered, but when it was previously offered, it was offered to a broader group. This is more narrow,” co-author of the bill, Utah Rep. Steve Eliason, told members of the state Health Care Reform Task Force in December when the bill was first introduced.
These services were covered in the state up until 2009, but since then Medicaid recipients have been left out in the cold when it comes to dental care. Professional, quality dental care is crucial to an individual’s overall health and well-being; in fact, one recent study found that dental care received in the ICU reduced the risk of lung infection by 56%.
School officials believe the quasi-partnership will be mutually beneficial to both the patients, who will will once again be able to receive care, and the students, who are in need of real-world experience. The university has even agreed to help pay the state’s portion of the cost and accept federal reimbursement.
“The oral health care is a critical factor in providing essential care for comprehensive health,” said Dr. Glen Hanson, Dean of the University of Utah School of Dentistry.
Hanson went on to note that often times it’s infections and diseases of the mouth that lead to greater health complications.
The bill will still have to be passed by the House to go into effect.