California Dentists Warn That Denti-Cal Cuts Will Take Toll on Kids’ Care
Dental health officials said the state's 10% cuts to Denti-Cal reimbursements will worsen the chronic condition of tooth decay among children, the Sacramento Bee reports. Denti-Cal is the dental benefit program of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Although the Denti-Cal budget is only 2% of the entire Medi-Cal budget, Denti-Cal providers will be subject to the same 10% cut as Med-Cal providers under legislation to address the state's budget deficit, according to the Dental Health Foundation.
The lower payment policies took effect last week.
More than 50% of all California children have experienced tooth decay by kindergarten, the Bee reports. Similarly, about 65% of children living in poverty in Sacramento, Yolo, Amador, El Dorado and Placer counties do not have adequate access to dental care, according to the Sacramento District Dental Foundation.
James Musser, a dentist, said that even before the reimbursement cuts, Denti-Cal reimbursements amounted to about 40% of what dentists are generally paid. He predicted that the budget cuts will result in fewer dentists participating in the program.
About 4,000 of California's 34,000 active dentists provide 97% of all services to Denti-Cal beneficiaries, according to the Dental Health Foundation (Liaw, Sacramento Bee, 7/6).