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SC Medicaid agency may reinstate dental coverage

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Posted: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 7:02 am | Updated: 12:57 pm, Thu Dec 27, 2012.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's Medicaid agency may reinstate paying for tooth extractions in 2012-13. 

The state Department of Health and Human Services cut emergency dental service for adults last spring as it sought to close a $228 million deficit. Federal law doesn't require state Medicaid programs to cover dental service for adults. 

However, the cut may actually be costing the state, if people with severe toothaches end up instead in hospital emergency rooms. 

Agency director Tony Keck says the agency is negotiating with dentists, and a study is under way to determine whether cutting one program is shifting higher costs elsewhere. 

Keck's budget request for 2012-13 says he may seek $3.7 million to reinstate the limited program, depending on the study's outcome. He says the analysis will take several months.

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