Medicaid and Children’s Dental Care – Minnesota

Feds warn Minnesota: Improve kids’ dental care in Medicaid, By Glenn Howatt, May 1, 2017, Star Tribune: “Minnesota has been warned that its main government health insurance program risks losing federal funding if it doesn’t provide more preventive dental care to children. The problem is familiar to many families on Medical Assistance: Many dentists don’t accept new patients covered by the program because Minnesota pays some of the lowest dental reimbursement rates in the country…”

Medicaid and Dental Care – Kansas

Rural dental networks hit hard by Kansas Medicaid cuts, By Andy Marso, December 12, 2016, KCUR: “At 59 years old, Bill Miller is starting to have neck and back problems. Thirty-two years of bending over to check patients’ teeth and gums will do that, he said. Miller is the only dentist in Hill City, a community of about 1,500 people northwest of Hays. He has treated Medicaid patients his entire career, even as reimbursements increasingly have lagged the cost of providing care.  Earlier this year the state cut those reimbursements another 4 percent as part of a host of emergency budget-balancing measures. Miller said that has him seriously considering dropping out of the Medicaid program…”

Medicaid and Dental Coverage – Kentucky

State to upset dentists: Medicaid proposal won’t hurt a bit, By Adam Beam (AP), August 2, 2016, Ledger-Enquirer: “In his mid-30s, Jonathan Hensley was unemployed and caring for some disabled family members. He needed to take care of himself, too, because his teeth hurt.  Historically in Kentucky, someone like Hensley — a single, able-bodied adult with no job — would likely not have had health insurance. But because the state expanded its Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act in 2013, Hensley and some 400,000 other Kentuckians got taxpayer-funded medical, dental and vision coverage. Hensley, now 37, got some needed fillings.  That routine dental coverage is now at risk, as Gov. Matt Bevin seeks to overhaul the state’s Medicaid system…”

Medicaid and Dental Care – California

California’s dental safety net fails most clients, report says, By David Gorn, April 6, 2016, National Public Radio: “California’s dental health system for the poor is dysfunctional, according to a report by a bipartisan oversight commission.  A more vivid description comes from Pedro Nava, the commission’s chairman: ‘In California we have kids’ teeth rotting out of their heads,’ he says. ‘That’s utterly inexcusable.’  The program, Denti-Cal, ranks among state government’s greatest deficiencies, according to the report released last week by the Little Hoover Commission, an independent oversight agency. One third of the state’s population is eligible to use Denti-Cal for subsidized dental care, including more than half of the state’s children…”

Medicaid and Dental Care – Idaho

Dentists push for higher pay from Idaho Medicaid, By Audrey Dutton, February 17, 2016, Idaho Statesman: “Jack Klure has been working as a dentist for 40 years, half of those in the Boise area. He sees 30 to 40 paying customers a week who have private health insurance or pay cash. But he and other Idaho dentists say they have given up on seeing Medicaid patients — a group that includes many Idaho children — because the government health insurance doesn’t pay enough, so they are pushing for higher reimbursement rates.  The state’s Medicaid reimbursement rate to dentists is slightly below the national average. As a percentage of the dentists’ full-price fee, reimbursements have decreased about 25 percent over the past 10 years, according to the American Dental Association…”

Medicaid and Children’s Dental Care – Indiana

Many children with Medicaid not getting required dental care, By Carla K. Johnson (AP), January 25, 2016, Northwest Indiana Times: “Three out of four children covered by Medicaid in four states, including Indiana, didn’t receive all required dental care over a recent two-year period, according to a federal report that recommends a government push to improve access to care.  One in four such kids didn’t see a dentist at all, the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office said Monday. Among the reasons were that there were too few dentists accepting Medicaid patients and a lack of education about the importance of proper dental care…”

Medicaid and Dental Care

Dental care for Medicaid patients is expanding, but a study says that won’t reduce ER visits, By Robert Gebeloff, August 6, 2015, Washington Post: “A lack of dental care for low-income Americans has long put stress on hospital emergency rooms, a new study has found, bring hundreds of thousands of patients in to ERs for minor dental problems. The study, published this week in Health Affairs, found that in 2010, somewhere around 2 percent of all ER visits was dedicated to avoidable these patients, posing questions about how best to deliver dental care to poor people. Authors of the study argue, however, that an expansion of dental care under Medicaid alone won’t fix the problem. Patients relying on the federal program would still face limited access to dentists who are willing to take them…”

Medicaid and Dental Care

Adult dental coverage expanding slowly in Medicaid, By Christine Vestal, June 10, 2015, Stateline: “At the Interfaith Dental Center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, people with dental pain can walk into a ground floor office off Bedford Avenue and get treated without an appointment. They might have to wait in a packed waiting room. But if they’re in the door by 5 p.m., a dentist will see them.  Residents in this low- to middle-income neighborhood likely don’t realize how lucky they are. The majority of Americans have to travel miles to see a dentist who takes their insurance, particularly if they’re covered by Medicaid. Many dental patients with private insurance cannot afford to pay their share of the bill. Federal law requires state Medicaid programs to include dental care for children, and the Affordable Care Act extended that requirement to private insurers. But the federal health law did little for adults: While premium tax credits were made available to help low-income people purchase health insurance, the subsidies cannot be used to purchase dental coverage except as an add-on to health coverage. No new dental benefit requirements were included for adults covered by Medicaid…”

Children’s Medicaid Coverage – California

  • Medi-Cal’s growing pains felt acutely by children, By Barbara Feder Ostrov, February 28, 2015, Santa Cruz Sentinel: “The massive expansion of Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for low-income residents, was intended to bring relief to working-class families in need of care. But it was hard on families like Diana Vega’s.  Vega, an elementary schoolteacher in San Pablo, appreciates the low premiums and that her three kids were able to keep the same pediatrician they had when they were under the now-defunct Healthy Families, another publicly funded insurance program. But Vega had trouble restoring therapy services for her son, diagnosed with autism and Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic condition that weakens muscles. And she also was taken aback by how much more difficult it was to get eyeglasses and dental care…”
  • Overdue for checkups: Denti-Cal program for low-income kids, Editorial, March 8, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “Fewer than half the low-income kids enrolled in California’s dental insurance program see a dentist in any given year. That seems like a problem. Whether it is, though, is impossible to tell because of the state’s inadequate oversight of the program, known as Denti-Cal. According to a recent audit, the state doesn’t collect the data necessary to determine whether the kids who need care can get it. The state should start measuring the performance of Denti-Cal as if it really cares how well it’s working…”

Medicaid Patients and Access to Care

  • Subsidized health centers welcome surge of Medicaid patients, By Kathleen O’Brien, February 16, 2015, Star-Ledger: “What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘clinic’? A storefront in the low-rent side of town, with plastic chairs in a crowded waiting room? A cramped examination room with just a curtain for privacy, where worried relatives hover in the hallway? That’s exactly what the old ‘Dover Community Clinic’ looked like a quarter-century ago when it was founded by a newly retired urologist who wanted to treat the poor. Now the Zufall Health Center occupies a renovated bank smack in the center of town, its three-story stone façade conveying solidity and permanence. It has a fancy new name – a Federally Qualified Health Center – and ‘clinic’ is a word consigned to its past…”
  • Medicaid patients struggle to get dental care, By Phil Galewitz, February 15, 2015, USA Today: “When Pavel Poliakov’s clothing shop in this picturesque college town closed last year, he felt lucky to be able to sign up for Medicaid just as Colorado expanded the program under President Obama’s health law. But when Poliakov developed such a severe toothache that he couldn’t eat on one side of his mouth, he was unable to find a dentist -— even though Colorado had just extended dental benefits to adults on Medicaid. Eventually, he turned to a county taxpayer-supported clinic that holds a monthly lottery for new patients…”

Access to Dental Care

Access to dental care still a problem for low-income people in Wisconsin, By Guy Boulton, February 9, 2015, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “One day after Monica Hebl of Burleigh Dental in Milwaukee returned from a nine-day dental mission to Haiti last month, she saw a child with several serious infections who needed to have four teeth pulled. Some of child’s teeth were black. ‘I was just blown away,’ said Hebl, a former president of the Wisconsin Dental Association. The child’s dental condition was symptomatic of a problem that doesn’t seem to be getting much better: Scant progress has been made in improving access to dental care among low-income people in Wisconsin…”

Medicaid and Children’s Dental Care – Utah

Will privatizing Medicaid’s dental program hurt Utah kids?, By Jennifer Dobner, July 10, 2013, Salt Lake Tribune: “Laura Privett is worried about the future of her children’s very expensive mouths. Her eldest, 16-year-old Wade, got his first filling before he turned 4. Her youngest, 6-year-old Kayden, was born with a partial cleft lip and had his first dental x-rays at five days old. He’s already had cranial facial surgery, six fillings and six caps. His jaw is so overcrowded with aching teeth that sometimes he can’t eat. ‘If it wasn’t for Medicaid, my kids would not have access to those dental services,’ the Kearns mother said. The care the Privetts rely on may change under a state plan to hire private managed care organizations to run the Medicaid dental program. Utah pediatric dentists fear the move will mean less access to care for children and smaller payments for dentists…”

Medicaid and Children’s Dental Care

  • State 2nd worst in poor kids’ dental care, By Karen Herzog, June 25, 2013, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Only one state in the nation has a worse track record than Wisconsin for providing dental care for low-income children, a report released Tuesday by Pew Charitable Trusts says. In Wisconsin, 71.5% of Medicaid-enrolled kids did not see a dentist in 2011 — second only to Florida, where three-fourths of Medicaid-enrolled kids didn’t get dental care that year…”
  • Dentists for children in short supply in Valley, By Barbara Anderson, June 25, 2013, Fresno Bee: “More than half the state’s low-income children are going without dental care because there aren’t enough dentists willing to treat the young who are on government insurance, a new report released today says. In 2011, 58.6% of the children enrolled in Medi-Cal did not receive any dental service, according to ‘In Search of Dental Care,’ a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Nationwide, the report found more than 14 million children enrolled in Medicaid did not receive any dental service…”
  • Oregon faces critical dentist shortage, report shows, By Soumya Karlamangla, June 24, 2013, The Oregonian: “Oregon suffers from one of the most severe dentist shortages in the country, according to data released today. A Pew Charitable Trusts report to be released Tuesday reveals that approximately 17 percent of Oregonians live in a dentist shortage area and therefore likely won’t receive adequate dental care. Oregon ranks 10th worst in the nation for dentist shortages…”
  • Florida at bottom in providing dental care for poor children, Pew report finds, By Kate Santich, June 24, 2013, Orlando Sentinel: “More than three-fourths of Florida’s children covered by Medicaid do not get regular dental care — the worst rate of any state, according to a report released today by the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign. The lack of care affected 1.5 million children across the state in 2011, the period analyzed by the Pew researchers. Nationally, they said, tens of millions of low-income children went without dental care that year…”

Medicaid and Dental Coverage

Sharp cuts in dental coverage for adults on Medicaid, By Abby Goodnough, August 28, 2012, New York Times: “Banned from tightening Medicaid eligibility in recent years, many states have instead slashed optional benefits for millions of poor adults in the program. Teeth have suffered disproportionately. Republican- and Democratic-controlled states alike have reduced or largely eliminated dental coverage for adults on Medicaid, the shared state and federal health insurance program for poor people. The situation is not likely to improve under President Obama’s health care overhaul: it requires dental coverage for children only…”

Medicaid and Dental Care

For some on Medicaid, just finding a dentist can be a challenge, By Jessica Alaimo, July 1, 2012, Coshocton Tribune: “You’re at a job interview, so smile. But if you’re missing teeth, you’re less likely to get hired. Ohio’s Medicaid-eligible population largely ignore their dental health, dental professionals say. This means minor problems turn into big problems that frequently end up with the dentist yanking out the problematic tooth. A big part of the problem is access. Just 28 percent of dentists in the state accept Medicaid or one of its managed care plans, according to the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio. Dentists say they lose money on Medicaid patients since the reimbursement rate is too low and the paperwork is burdensome. Joan Durben, public assistance administrator for Coshocton County’s Department of Job and Family Services, said most Medicaid patients end up going to a clinic for care…”

Medicaid and Children’s Dental Care

Many kids on Medicaid don’t see dentist, By Steven Reinberg, June 7, 2012, U.S. News & World Report: “Only about one-third of U.S. children on Medicaid receives dental care in a single year, and how often these kids see a dentist depends on where they live, a new study finds. In 2007, the prevalence of visits to the dentist ranged from 12 percent in Nevada to 49 percent in Vermont, but didn’t reach 50 percent in any state or the District of Columbia, the researchers found. The researchers also compared the 2007 findings with data from five years earlier…”

Medicaid and Dental Care

Medicaid coverage is no guarantee of care, By Sarah Okeson, April 21, 2012, Springfield News-Leader: “Adults on Medicaid in Missouri have to be blind, pregnant or in a nursing home to qualify for dental care. It’s better for children. The federal government requires dental coverage for children on Medicaid in Missouri and other states. But that insurance doesn’t mean they actually get the services. Slightly more than 30 percent of children ages 1 to 18 enrolled in Medicaid in Missouri received dental services in 2009, the fourth worst rate among the 50 states, according to the Pew Center on the States in Washington, D.C. Only Florida, Montana and Wisconsin had dentists who treated a smaller share of their states’ poor children…”

Poor Children and Dental Disease

‘Silent epidemic’ of dental disease threatens poor kids’ health, By Renée C. Lee, March 4, 2012, Houston Chronicle: “Every time Dr. Martee Engel treats a young patient whose teeth have brown or white chalky spots, she’s reminded of an acute problem affecting children – particularly poor children. Engel sees more than her share of early childhood tooth decay as dental director at Denver Harbor Clinic in northeast Houston. The clinic treats mostly poor children who are twice as likely as more affluent children to have untreated tooth decay, studies show. While overall oral health care for adults and children has improved, tooth decay continues to be the most common chronic disease among children. It can have serious social and health consequences when untreated and, in rare cases, can be fatal…”

Emergency Rooms and Dental Care

  • Emergency dental care up 16%; lack of insurance cited, By Guy Boulton, February 27, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Preventable dental conditions resulted in an estimated 890,000 emergency department visits nationally in 2009, a 16% increase from 2006, according to a report from the Pew Center on the States. The problem can be seen in Wisconsin and is a long-standing frustration for the Wisconsin Hospital Association. The association has estimated that 32,000 patients with dental problems, such as an infected tooth, are seen by hospital emergency departments each year. Many of the visits stem from the limited access to dental care for people who are uninsured or who are covered by state health programs. The fees paid to dentists by the state’s health programs, such as BadgerCare Plus, are the fifth-lowest in the country, according to a separate report released last year by the Pew Children’s Dental Campaign, a national effort to increase access to dental care for low-income children…”
  • More Americans seek dental treatment at the ER; costs can be 10 times more than checkups, By Lindsey Tanner (AP), February 28, 2012, Chicago Tribune: “More Americans are turning to the emergency room for routine dental problems – a choice that often costs 10 times more than preventive care and offers far fewer treatment options than a dentist’s office, according to an analysis of government data and dental research. Most of those emergency visits involve trouble such as toothaches that could have been avoided with regular checkups but went untreated, in many cases because of a shortage of dentists, particularly those willing to treat Medicaid patients, the analysis said. The number of ER visits nationwide for dental problems increased 16 percent from 2006 to 2009, and the report released Tuesday by the Pew Center on the States suggests the trend is continuing…”

State Medicaid Cuts – Illinois

Illinois Medicaid cuts will hit a system already in crisis, By Kristen McQueary, February 17, 2012, New York Times: “When Gov. Pat Quinn announces Medicaid cuts from a Springfield podium next week, Dr. Jason Grinter will be in the operating room of a Chicago hospital, treating Medicaid patients. Dr. Grinter is a dentist whose appointment book includes hundreds of Medicaid clients, many of whom have no other access to dental care. He treats children, the elderly and the disabled – often in school gymnasiums or nursing home cafeterias as part of a mobile dentistry outreach. Dental services are among the benefits lawmakers are considering cutting as they look for ways to reduce the cost of the state’s health care system for the poor. Dr. Grinter says that is short-sighted. ‘When you go without dental care, you get infections,’ he said. ‘You go to the emergency room – that’s big bucks. The state will be spending twice as much if it gets rid of the dental program.’ From the enrollment of patients through treatment and payment, the Medicaid program in Illinois has been plagued by fraud, inefficiency, unsustainable costs and a paralyzing political climate with often-competing doctor, hospital and health care lobbies, according to lawmakers and health-care organizations who work within the system…”