Calif. seeks to exempt kids' dental centers from Medi-Cal cuts

The California Department of Health Care Services announced earlier this week that pediatric dental surgery centers that cater to poor children should be exempt from a 10% cut in reimbursements for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program, in order to maintain access to care, according to a news story in the Fresno Bee.

Although the exemption still needs federal approval, the state is proposing it be effective December 1.

The state received federal approval to reduce payments to dentists, doctors, pharmacists, and clinics under Assembly Bill 97, which was approved by the Legislature in 2011, according to the story.

Pediatric dental surgery centers said they would have to shut down because of these reduced payments. This in turn would mean more lower-income children in hospital emergency departments.

"We are so thankful to get this 10% exemption," Alan Vallarine, DDS, owner of the Fresno Dental Surgery Center, told the Fresno Bee. "Otherwise, we were going to be history."

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