Rate of Children Covered by Medi-Cal Visiting Dentists Up, Study Finds
A new American Dental Association Health Policy Institute study analyzes the state of dental care in California and other states, the Watertown Daily Times reports (Anderson, Watertown Daily Times, 1/7).
For the study, ADA reviewed all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to determine:
- Attitudes toward oral care and oral health knowledge;
- Dental care use;
- Dentist-to-population ratios;
- Fluoridation rates;
- Oral health status;
- Percentage of dentists who participate in Medicaid; and
- Reimbursement rates for providers (ADA HPI release, January 2016).
Overall, the study found that the number of dentists per 100,000 residents in California increased from about 65 in 2001 to about 76 in 2013.
About 29% of California dentists were offering care to adolescent Medi-Cal beneficiaries in 2014, according to the study. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Between 2000 and 2013, Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for adolescent dental services fell by 31.6%.
During that time, the percentage of children covered by Medi-Cal who had visited a dentist in the last 12 months increased by 13 percentage points. Specifically:
- 32% of children in Medi-Cal visited a dentist in 2000;
- 33% visited a dentist in 2005; and
- 45% visited a dentist in 2013.
Meanwhile, the study also found that:
- The percentage of California children with private dental coverage who had visited a dentist in the last year increased from 61% in 2005 to 67% in 2013; and
- Among adults with private dental coverage, the percentage dropped from 63% in 2005 to 62% in 2013.
The study also found that:
- High-income adults had more positive attitudes toward oral health than low-income adults; and
- 44% of high-income adults had high oral health knowledge, compared with 45% of low-income adults (ADA HPI study, January 2016).
CDA Donates $1M To Tobacco Tax Effort
In related news, the California Dental Association has donated $1 million the Save Lives California coalition and its effort to place a tobacco tax increase measure on the November state ballot, according to a release.
Supporters have started collecting signatures for a proposed measure to increase the state's tobacco tax by $2 per pack. Among other things, the measure:
- References dental disease prevention; and
- Would allocate $30 million in revenue raised to oral health programs overseen by the state dental director.
Supporters have until April 26 to collect enough signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot (CDA release, 1/5).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.