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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The state’s Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill that could lead to a major change in the way the Medicaid program provides dental care to children.

On Monday, Senators voted 35-2 to approve the measure (HB 819), which also passed the House last month and is now headed to Gov. Rick Scott.

Senate President Andy Gardiner and Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner cast the lone dissenting votes.

The issue stems from the state’s Medicaid managed-care system, which currently requires HMOs to cover dental services for children. The bill could ultimately lead to “carving out” dental care from other services and providing it through separate prepaid dental plans.

The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, of Stuart, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, from Miami, would lead to the state’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government conducting a study of dental services and submitting the report by Dec. 1. The Legislature could use the findings of the report to make changes in the dental program.

If lawmakers don’t take action during the 2017 legislative session, the Agency for Health Care Administration would be directed to move forward with a prepaid dental program.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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