California is facing a shortage of dentists willing to accept Medi-Cal beneficiaries as the state prepares to transition nearly one million children to Medi-Cal dental programs, according to a report from The Children's Partnership, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports.
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 1/17).
By Sept. 1, the state aims to shift about 863,000 children from Healthy Families to Medi-Cal, which reimburses physicians at lower rates. Healthy Families is California's Children's Health Insurance Plan.
Diana Dooley -- secretary of the state Health and Human Services Agency -- said that the transition will help streamline and simplify government health care programs for California children (California Healthline, 12/5/12).
The report found that children currently enrolled in Medi-Cal are not receiving needed dental care.
According to the report, nearly half of beneficiaries under age 21 who are enrolled in Denti-Cal -- a Medi-Cal dental program -- did not receive a dental check-up or treatment in 2011.
The report found that a major factor in the lack of dental care was that relatively few dentists accept Medi-Cal patients (The Children's Partnership release, 1/18).
The report recommended that state officials:
- Ease enrollment processes for Medi-Cal dental programs;
- Expand the roles of dental hygienists and dental assistants so they can provide care in regions with fewer dentists;
- Improve efforts to educate families about the availability of dental benefits; and
- Raise Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for dentists ("KPCC News," KPCC, 1/17).