Budget Cuts Could Further Limit Provider Pool for Denti-Cal Enrollees, Groups Say

In a California Healthline Special Report, Liz Snow — chief strategy officer for the California Dental Association — and Carmela Castellano-Garcia — CEO of the California Primary Care Association — weighed in on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) budget proposal and its implications for the state’s medical and dental safety nets.

Schwarzenegger is calling for cutting reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal providers and eliminating benefits for adult beneficiaries in Denti-Cal, the state’s dental care program for low-income, elderly and disabled residents. Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program.

About 40% of private dentists in California participate in Denti-Cal, a number that likely would drop if reimbursements decreased, according to Snow. Defeating the proposal will be CDA’s top priority this legislative session, she said.

“We’re already starting to hear from individuals who are looking at dropping out because they’re tired of hearing every other year that the state’s getting ready to cut the program,” Snow said.

Castellano-Garcia said benefit cuts for adults also could affect children if community clinics eliminate dental services altogether. “The Medi-Cal program is the backbone of clinic funding in the state of California,” she said (Kennedy, California Healthline, 1/28).

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