The Department of Health Care Service’s new program designed to expand access to care for Medi-Cal patients has awarded $10.5 million to 40 dentists to pay student loan debt. Approximately 1,300 health care providers, including 350 dentists, applied to the CalHealthCares program, which offers up to $300,000 in debt relief in exchange for meeting certain criteria.
As part of the finalized 2019-20 California state budget, the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a continuation of supplemental Medi-Cal provider rates, including significant dollars for dentists serving Medi-Cal patients. An additional $20 million was dedicated to dentists through a recently launched student loan repayment program.
Dentists in 26 counties have a new opportunity to participate in the Dental Transformation Initiative to help improve dental health for low-income children enrolled in the Medi-Cal Program while receiving enhanced reimbursement by meeting specific incentive metrics.
The 2018-19 state budget signed by Gov. Jerry Brown dedicates $210 million from the Proposition 56 Tobacco Tax revenue to Denti-Cal providers, a $70 million increase from last year’s amount. This effort is the result of years of activity to improve the Medi-Cal dental program and increase access to oral health care for the state’s 13.5 million Medi-Cal enrollees.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, adults enrolled in the Denti-Cal program are eligible for an expanded set of dental benefits. The Department of Health Care Services on Nov. 9 issued a special provider bulletin to clarify the dental services that providers may render, bill and be reimbursed for by Denti-Cal in 2018, including scaling and root planing, partial dentures and posterior root canals.
More than 7 million adults enrolled in Denti-Cal, California’s Medicaid dental program, will have a fully restored package of dental benefits in 2018. The adult benefit package was drastically cut in 2009 due to the state budget crisis and was partially restored in May 2014. The restoration of the adult dental benefit services is a result of legislative action taken during the 2017-18 budget process.