California Gov. Schwarzenegger proposes dental budget cuts for '08-'09

Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing millions of dollars in budget cuts to the 2008-09 Medi-Cal budget, which includes the Denti-Cal program.

The proposed Denti-Cal cuts will affect more than 6.6 million beneficiaries from the poorest California families to the elderly and disabled, according to a press release by the California Dental Association

"In past budget crises, CDA has worked with Governor Schwarzenegger and his Administration to contain costs and readjust benefits and reimbursement rates to work within the state’s budget, but we’re growing weary of this fight, and can’t fix a broken system alone," said Dr. Nagaraj Murthy, a member of CDA’s Government Affairs Council in a press release.

The governors' budget not only calls for a10 percent cut in dental reimbursement rates, but also the elimination of a program that provides dental care to adults, the release further claims. So the cutback on dental spending will be approximately 35 percent instead of 10 percent like the administration is claiming, claims the CDA.

"Even if the Governor only cuts provider fees by 10 percent, this will destroy the dental program because providers will just give up and opt out. Remember that year after year, reimbursement rates have been reduced making it impossible to treat patients when dentists are only reimbursed for literally pennies on the dollar," said Dr. Brian Scott, president of the California Dental Association in a press release. "The Government made a commitment when it created this program, and for years critics have blamed providers for not being able to figure out how to provide care on a shoestring."

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