I live in rural Maine, a place with unparalleled beauty, but high poverty rates. We can work long hours and still not be able to afford dental care. As a result, many hard-working members of my community suffer from dental disease which is painful, disfiguring and, at times, debilitating.

Unlike 33 states that provide dental care and cleanings for Medicaid recipients. Maine does not. Instead, MaineCare spends millions of dollars on hospital emergency room antibiotics and pain medication that will temporarily provide relief, but not cure the problem. A 2010 University of Maine study found that the top reason for diagnostic ER visits among the uninsured and MaineCare recipients age 15 to 44 was dental disease.

The sensible solution is for MaineCare to provide preventive care and maintenance for oral health. That will provide dignity, better health and nutrition, peace of mind, fewer lost work days and fewer ER visits.

LD 1453, a bill that would have created an adult dental benefit for MaineCare recipients beginning in 2021, passed in the House and Senate. It is sitting on Gov. Janet Mills’ desk.

It is important that Gov. Mills fulfill her promise to bring affordable, accessible health care to all Mainers by signing that bill.

Jan Collins, East Wilton

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