Medi-Cal Enrollees in San Joaquin Valley Feel Impact of Dental Cuts
More low-income residents in San Joaquin Valley and across California are going without dental care following the elimination of several services under Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, the Fresno Bee reports.
Last summer, lawmakers eliminated Medi-Cal coverage for adult dental care, podiatry, optometry, speech therapy and other services the federal government does not require states to cover.
From July 2008 through December 2008, about 286,000 San Joaquin Valley residents qualified for adult dental care under Medi-Cal, and about 35,000 residents sought the services. In comparison, about 11,920 Valley residents sought Medi-Cal dental services during the same period in 2009.
Medi-Cal still offers pediatric dental care in accordance with federal requirements. The program also still covers emergency dental work and some services for elderly nursing home residents, developmentally disabled individuals and pregnant women.
Officials estimate that the scaled-back dental benefits will reduce state spending by $80 million for fiscal year 2009-2010.
Some advocates have expressed concern that the benefit cuts will compel some Medi-Cal beneficiaries to seek treatment for dental complications at hospital emergency departments.Others have warned that some dentists might stop accepting Medi-Cal patients even if the state reinstates the dental benefits (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 1/10). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.