Overhaul Of California’s Denti-Cal Program Wins Praise From Fiercest Critics
Tooth decay in California's children far outpaces the rest of the country, and officials have been focusing on making improvements to its program that helps children of low-income families get care.
California Overhauls Low-Income Dental Care Program
In California, the state with the highest poverty rate, tooth decay in children outpaces the national average. Hoping to save both teeth and money, the state is addressing the problem with an overhaul of Denti-Cal, part of the Medi-Cal health system for low-income Californians. Pilot programs are underway to get more kids into a dentist’s chair, and the state plans to kick off an educational campaign next month. Officials have also reduced red tape, streamlined billing, raised payments to dentists and offered cash to those willing to accept more state patients. (Gorn, 9/16)
In other news —
The California Health Report:
California Grapples With Growing Physician Shortage For Low-Income Patients
While the number of full-time physicians serving Medi-Cal enrollees increased 9 percent between 2013 and 2015, the overall proportion of doctors serving the population shrank significantly. According to the California Health Care Foundation, in 2013, there were 59 full-time primary-care doctors per 100,000 Medi-Cal patients. But by 2015, the ratio had dropped to 39 doctors per 100,000 patients. The ratio of non-primary-care physicians per 100,000 Medi-Cal patients also dropped during the same time period, from 91 to 63. And the percentage of the state’s doctors willing to participate in Medi-Cal during those years fell too. In 2013, 69 percent of California doctors saw patients in the low-income program, but by 2015, 64 percent did. (Shinkman, 9/17)