NY to make deep cuts to dental Medicaid

New York plans to cut $60 million in reimbursements to dentists participating in the state's Medicaid program on May 1, according to a story in the Times Union.

New York adopted a Medicaid Redesign Team proposal that cuts the $800 million dental Medicaid program by 7.5%. Under the proposal, the state will reduce the fee-for-service rates to match the rates paid to dentists in managed care plans -- which are generally 20% lower.

The New York Medicaid Redesign Team has been tasked with finding ways to reduce costs and increase quality and efficiency in the Medicaid program for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. New York Medicaid spends more than $53 billion annually to provide healthcare to more than 4.7 million people.

Currently, only 20% of the state's dentists take Medicaid patients, according to the story, and there are concerns that even fewer will do so once the proposed cuts are in place.

The cuts largely affect upstate dentists and patients because the state has paid the higher fee-for-service rates to upstate dentists to ensure an adequate pool of dentists in the Medicaid program.

The state has not said whether the cuts will be across-the-board reductions or the elimination of certain services. The state dental association hopes the state achieves some of the savings through administrative efficiencies, the Times Union reported.

New York Medicaid payments to dentists have not increased since 2002 and reimbursement rates had not changed significantly since the 1970s, the story noted.

Last month Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers agreed on a budget deal that would impose $2 billion in cuts on healthcare and education to close a $10 billion budget shortfall without new taxes or borrowing, according to related news reports.

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