A pilot project allowing rural health clinics to offer dental services through cooperative agreements with community dentists has now been put on hold due to recent budget restrictions.
MARHC successfully advocated for $1.25 million in the fiscal year 2016 budget for this pilot project, which was designed to expand access to oral healthcare services in underserved areas. After the budget’s passage, MARHC began working with the Missouri Dental Association to connect dentists and rural health clinics interested in developing partnerships.
Unfortunately, the pilot was included in the $46 million that Governor Nixon announced he is withholding from the budget. These budget restrictions came as the result of a court’s decision that Missouri will not receive $50 million from a tobacco settlement case. Nixon stated that the loss of this anticipated revenue has forced him to withhold funds in order to balance the state’s budget. Republican legislators argue that Missouri currently has a budget surplus and that the restrictions are unconstitutional.
Once the legislature reconvenes in January, the General Assembly will have the option to vote to override the budget withholds. MARHC will continue to keep members informed of any updates to the dental pilot project’s funding.