A bill to make sure Maine dental insurers are spending enough on improving the quality of care for their customers has cleared a legislative  committee.

The bill, which would require dental insurers to report their medical loss ratios to the state annually, was passed unanimously this week by the Legislature’s Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurers are required to have an 80 percent medical loss ratio, meaning that 80 cents of every dollar is spent paying customers’ claims and items that improve the quality of care.

But dental insurers don’t face the same requirement, said Sen. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, who was a chief sponsor of the measure.

Under the legislation, dental insurers would provide medical loss ratio data each year to the Maine Bureau of Insurance. The bureau would then make the data public, calculate the average loss ratio and identify outliers. Those outlier plans would then have to submit a remediation plan to improve the value of their coverage for patients.

The bill “will give Mainers the ability to see just how much their dental plans actually spend toward improving care and patient outcomes,” Sanborn said, and also give state officials the ability to make sure insurers who don’t meet the standards develop plans to lower rates or improve service.

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