Dental hygienist Christine Edgecomb takes care of a patient at St. Apollonia Dental Clinic. Credit: Courtesy of Norma Desjardins

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature is taking up for a third consecutive year a proposal to expand preventive dental coverage to about 70,000 adults under MaineCare.

Maine is one of 10 states that provide only emergency care, but that would change under the proposal to add preventive services to the state’s version of Medicaid. A public hearing was held on Monday before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.

“The way that MaineCare delivers oral health to adults is irrational, financially wasteful and promotes low-quality results,” House Speaker Ryan Fecteau said during Monday during a news conference.

The bipartisan bill is similar to one introduced last year that received unanimous support from the Health and Human Services Committee, but died when the Legislature adjourned due to the pandemic.

Maine children with Medicaid get full dental benefits, but coverage lapses when they become adults, except for emergency care.

In 2012, a state task force found that MaineCare spent $17 million a year on emergency dental care that could have been avoided, Fecteau said.