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California Medicaid Cuts May Affect Children’s Dental Care

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By Kathy Kincade, Editor for Dr.Bucuspid

In 2009, some 3 million adults in California lost their Medicaid dental benefits as the state struggled to close a severe budget gap.

Now many of the state’s poorest children are facing potential cutbacks in Medicaid dental services as well, after the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved a proposal to reduce Medi-Cal provider reimbursements by 10% — which could force some dentists to stop taking Medi-Cal patients.

While children’s services are exempt from the Medi-Cal cuts, the exemption applies to medical services, not dental, according to the California Dental Association (CDA).

“After the loss of the adult dental program, we are now talking about cuts almost exclusively on the care provided to children,” said Daniel G. Davidson, DMD, the president-elect of the CDA. “Access to care should be the main goal here, and because these cuts are counter to that goal, CDA is analyzing its options to determine the most appropriate next steps to take to reverse it.”

Under the federal Medicaid Act, the state is required to demonstrate that Medicaid patients and privately insured patients have equal access to healthcare and that access will remain intact if the cuts are implemented. In a statement issued October 27, CMS said that, based on “extensive data” submitted by the state, it believes access to care won’t be jeopardized for Californians as a result of the cuts.

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