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DHSS details FY 2020 requests for Medicaid, addiction treatment funding


Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services offered its proposed Fiscal year 2020 budget to the Joint Finance Committee Tuesday.

Gov. John Carney is recommending more than $1.2 billion for DHSS next fiscal year, an increase of 3.4 percent.

That includes about $1.8 million for behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, up from $1.4 million in 2019.

DHSS Secretary Kara Odom Walker said 345 people died of opioid overdoses in Delaware in 2017. She expects the number in 2018 to surpass 400. Walker said despite all the state’s efforts, and the Delaware Prescription Management Program created to reduce opioid misuse, deaths continue to climb.

“The Dept. of State has released some indication that prescriptions for high dose prescribers are down, but we still have a lot more work to do,” she said.

Some behavioral health and substance abuse treatment money will go to ongoing initiatives like youth prevention, medication assisted treatment and expanding needle exchanges.

The governor is also seeking ongoing funding for providing the overdose reversal medication Naloxone, withdrawal management and recovery homes.

But Carney is not recommending about $2.5 million for dental care for adults on Medicaid. The state doesn’t cover dental services for adults on Medicaid. And federal law doesn’t require it to do so.

Center for Health Care Strategies said low-income adults suffer disproportionately from dental disease. Poor oral health can increase risks for people with conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Odom Walker said some Delawareans can get inexpensive services at clinics around the state. And DHSS will continue to consider low-cost ways to get more services to people.

“I mean it’s always, you know, balancing across all of the needs of the agency that’s difficult. We never have all of the money to cover what we would like to cover,” she said.

Insurance plans through AmeriHealth’s Medicaid managed care system do offer some dental services for adults.

Delaware is one of three states that doesn’t offer dental services to its Medicaid base population and one of two that doesn’t give it to its expanded Medicaid population. A fact sheet from the Center for Health Care Strategies said Alabama, Tennessee and Delaware don't offer dental to its Medicaid base. Delaware and North Dakota don't offer it to its expanded Medicaid population.

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