Governor's budget proposal ignores Denti-Cal

CDA is disappointed that the 2015-16 state budget proposal released by Gov. Jerry Brown Friday does not address the statewide crisis in access to dental care.

The budget proposal does not address any of the critical issues highlighted by a recent state audit of the Denti-Cal program, which found that the Denti-Cal program is failing to provide adequate access to timely care for millions of low-income children and uphold its obligation to ensure an adequate network of dental providers. The audit points to low reimbursement rates as a primary reason for the substantial lack of providers able to participate in the program.

California has among the nation's lowest Medicaid provider reimbursement rates, which have not increased since 2000 and are only 35 percent of the national average. Additionally, the state implemented a 10 percent cut in reimbursements in 2013, and while the state exempted most pediatric medical services from the cut, it did not exempt pediatric dental services.

"We are disappointed that today's budget proposal does not make any attempt to address the access crisis that has resulted from Denti-Cal's failures," said CDA President Walt Weber, DDS. "The findings of the state audit make it very clear that the Denti-Cal program needs substantial improvements in order to provide timely access to care for patients. This includes ensuring an adequate provider network and requires reasonable reimbursement rates. We urge the administration and the legislature to act this year to develop a comprehensive fix."

The audit, California Department of Health Care Services: Weaknesses in Its Medi-Cal Dental Program Limit Children's Access to Dental Care, expresses serious doubts about Denti-Cal's ability to accommodate the millions of new children and adults who are gaining coverage through eligibility expansion. The audit was also critical of the Department of Health Care Services for inadequate oversight of Denti-Cal, insufficient efforts to increase utilization and poor data collection.

Topics: Community