Law Could Expose Limited Access to Dental Care
Dentists in California hope that a new state law requiring children entering their first year of public school to show proof of a dental screening will raise awareness of the need for increased funding of dental services for children, the East Bay Business Times reports.
Under the law (AB 1433), parents of kindergartners and first-graders must show proof of a dental screening each year or sign a waiver explaining why their child was not screened.
Dental screenings are limited for low-income residents because many private dentists do not participate in Denti-Cal, California's public dental program. Many dentists attribute their choice not to treat Denti-Cal beneficiaries to inadequate reimbursement rates, saying that the program pays dentists at 20% to 40% of the cost of services.
Jason Renner, a member of the Contra Costa Dental Society, said the new law and its required waivers will provide "accurate numbers on the need, the perceived need and the un-met need" for increased funding for dental programs. Renner added, "Until the government has numbers, it is hard to put money toward programs" (Hogarth, East Bay Business Times, 4/2).