State Update

State Spotlight: West Virginia

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West Virginia Statistics:

  • Population in 2012: 1.8 million
  • Rural state with many small towns. Largest city is the capital, Charleston, WV. Population in 2012: 51,371.
  • Median household income: $39,550 (U.S. median household income: $52,762).
  • Approximately 850 practicing dentists are located in West Virginia, and the state has one dental school.
  • 42% of West Virginians have no teeth by age 65 (U.S. average is 25%). 
  • In 2011, West Virginia moved from an F to a C grade on the Pew Center’s National Oral Health Report Card. 

Program Highlight: The Pre-Employment Dental and Vision Project began a few years after President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), which shifted the entire welfare system to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) with a limit on benefits of 60 months and an emphasis for recipients to obtain employment. In 1999, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary asked the West Virginia Office of Maternal, Child, and Family Health to develop a program for TANF recipients to receive dental assistance (vision services are also included in the project). The poor oral health of West Virginia residents, particularly the low-income residents, became a serious impediment to obtaining employment. As a result, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, granted a special exemption to allow West Virginia to operate this project. ACF considered the Pre-Employment Project “special services”; consequently, TANF funds could then be used for “work preparation.” This exemption is unique because typically TANF funds cannot be used for straight medical services.

Originally, the lifetime limit per person was $2,400 for dental services, but the amount was increased to $3,300 in 2010, as a result of increased TANF funding.

Services Offered: Exams, x-rays, restorative procedures–such as fillings, root canals, and prosthodontics (dentures, partials, relines)–and extractions are covered under the Pre-Employment Project. Porcelain crowns and some other services must be pre-approved by the State Dental Director. 

Residents Served: During FY 2010, the Pre-Employment Dental and Vision Project processed 2,230 dental claims and 1,521 vision claims.

To learn more about the Pre-Employment Dental and Vision Project, click here.