Comparing the prevalence of infant mortality in 7 Southern states based on medicaid dental coverage
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The objective of this study was to explore a possible association between infant mortality rate (IMR) and Medicaid dental benefit payouts per state, as well as propose an expansion of the dental benefits provided through Medicaid. Data was obtained from the Vital Statistics report 2012 and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicaid coverage database for fiscal year 2011. Population and demographic data was also collected for further comparison. The states observed were Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The IMR data was ranked in ascending order and then the dental payments were compared between the seven southern states. There did not appear to be an association between the two variables. It was hypothesized that the state with the highest IMR would have the least amount of Medicaid dental payments; possibly indicating limited benefits and a need for expansion. The data did not support the hypothesis. Although Mississippi had the highest IMR at 9.9 per 1,000 live births, the amount dental benefits paid through Medicaid was not the lowest. Kentucky had the lowest IMR at 6.9 per 1,000 live births, and North Carolina had the highest amount of dental payments with $352,602 being paid by the state. However, the comparing variable in each state did not reflect an association. Limitations of the study were addressed and suggested improvements were made for future studies that would possibly yield significant findings. In conclusion, the data collected and observed did not provide evidence that the expansion of Medicaid dental benefits would combat infant mortality rates across the country.