Steinberg To Unveil Bill To Tweak Sacramento County’s Dental Program
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) plans to introduce a bill next week that aims to provide low-income children in Sacramento County with better access to dentists, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The Sacramento Bee article was produced by the California HealthCare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting. The Center is supported by a grant from CHCF, which publishes California Healthline.
On Tuesday, Diane Van Maren -- Steinberg's health consultant -- told the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors about Steinberg's plans (Bazar, Sacramento Bee, 3/14).
Under Sacramento County's mandatory managed care program, the state pays private dental plans a fee each month to provide coverage for more than 110,000 child beneficiaries of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Last week, Steinberg asked Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas to take immediate action to improve the dental program following a previous Sacramento Bee article.
The article scrutinized the dental program for long wait times and low rates of dental care among beneficiaries.
In the 2010-2011 fiscal year, fewer than one-third of Sacramento children with Medi-Cal visited a dentist, compared with a rate of nearly 50% statewide (California Healthline, 3/12).
Details of Steinberg's Plan
Van Maren said Steinberg's bill would give low-income Sacramento children the option of a fee-for-service model, which reimburses dentists for each visit.
Critics of the current managed care plan say it discourages dentists from treating patients because it does not affect their payment. Â
Steinberg's bill also would strengthen consumer protections, according to Van Maren.
She said, "There is an immediate need for change here in Sacramento," adding, "Managed care alone clearly is not working."Â
If approved, the legislation would take effect July 1, according to Van Maren.
Douglas previously has said it would be "most expedient and effective" to keep children in the managed care program because the state might need to adjust its agreements with the federal government, which provides funding for Medi-Cal.
Douglas has proposed alternative changes to the dental program, such as strengthening action against dental plans that do a poor job and resolving patient complaints more quickly (Sacramento Bee, 3/14).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.