The California Dental Association (CDA) said the recent 2015-2016 state budget revisions by Gov. Jerry Brown took no action to improve the state's Medicaid dental program, Denti-Cal, and urged that deficiencies in the program be addressed in the upcoming budget negotiations.
In a statement, the CDA's recommendations to improve the program included the following:
- Stronger oversight by the state Department of Health Care Services
- Accurate assessments of active providers
- Adequate funding for the program.
"The governor's revised budget is disappointing considering that the broken Denti-Cal program has undergone intense legislative scrutiny after the release of the state auditor's report," stated CDA President Walt Weber, DDS. "The state is failing to keep its promise to patients who have Medi-Cal coverage but can't get the dental care they need. Investing in Denti-Cal now will help these patients get preventive dental care, saving the state from the much greater long-term costs that come with chronic dental disease and emergency room visits."
The state auditor's report found that more than half (56%) of children enrolled in Denti-Cal were not receiving any dental care and further noted that Denti-Cal reimbursements are only 35% of the national average for most services.
"The state has a legal obligation to ensure that low-income Californians have adequate access to dental care," Dr. Weber stated. "The Denti-Cal system has especially suffered in recent years and the issues spelled out in the audit need to be addressed immediately."