Idaho governor candidates clash over dental cuts

Dental cuts that affect Idaho Medicaid recipients became a contentious issue during a debate October 13 between Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Democrat Keith Allred, according to an Associated Press news story.

Dentists across the state are up in arms after 150 to 200 dentists were cut from the Idaho Smiles Medicaid program in an effort to reduce costs.

Otter said that the dentists were cut because they were providing too many services and cost too much, while Allred accused his opponent of blindsiding dentists by not communicating, according to the story.

The Idaho Smiles program was implemented in 2007 and currently provides services to about 220,000 Medicaid recipients, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW). The department has a five-year contract with Blue Cross to oversee the program; in turn, Blue Cross subcontracts with DentaQuest to administer the program to certain populations.

The Idaho Smiles contract calls for patients in urban areas to have access to care within 30 miles of their home (60 miles in rural areas), get a routine checkup within 45 days of calling, and receive emergency care within 24 hours of calling.

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