BOISE -- Lawmakers voted 62-6 to restore adult Medicaid dental benefits, arguing cuts three years ago that left 27,000 people without coverage cost Idaho more in dental-related emergency room services than it saved.
The House vote over the $1.4 million measure Tuesday pitted arguments for good preventative dentistry against fiscal hawks who say federal deficits trump good oral hygiene for low-income, elderly and disabled people.
Minority Leader John Rusche of Lewiston argued it not only made sense from a health perspective, but also from a fiscal perspective.
After the coverage was eliminated in 2011, monthly emergency-room costs rose to $65,000 now, from just $30,000 two years ago.
Republican Rep. Paul Shepherd of Riggins countered the federal government should address the nation's looming $16 trillion debt before helping poor people maintain their smiles.