The Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) today expressed concern regarding the impact that Governor Malloy’s proposed 5.6% cut in Medicaid reimbursements will have on dental health care for thousands of Connecticut’s poorest residents.
HARTFORD, CT - The Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) today expressed concern regarding the impact that Governor Malloy’s proposed 5.6% cut in Medicaid reimbursements will have on dental health care for thousands of Connecticut’s poorest residents.
“While we understand the tough choices that Governor Malloy faced as it relates to the budget, we believe it is penny-wise and pound-foolish to impose a 5.6% across the board cut to dental Medicaid reimbursements,” said Dr. Jeffrey Berkley, President of the Connecticut State Dental Association. “Over the past seven years, Connecticut’s dental Medicaid program has gone from one of the worst performing programs in the country to a national example, with many other states trying to emulate the program,” Dr. Berkley explained.
Prior to a lawsuit in 2008 that enacted sweeping dental Medicaid reform, only 125 dentists were providing a significant amount of care to those enrolled in the HUSKY program. Because there were so few dentists accepting Medicaid, children and adults on HUSKY were unable to receive needed dental care, and utilization was low.
Upon settlement of that lawsuit, dental Medicaid reimbursements were increased, and more dentists began to accept dental Medicaid. Today, more than 2,000 dentists are active participants in the the program, and utilization of services by Medicaid children is higher than national utilization rates for private insurance.
According to the CSDA, any form of reduction to dental Medicaid reimbursement rates will erode the successful program that exists today, impacting the ability of Connecticut’s poorest residents to access dental care, and would ultimately cost the state more money elsewhere.
“Dentists simply cannot afford to receive less reimbursement for Medicaid services,” states Dr. Berkley. “Cutting reimbursement rates will cause dentists to drop out of the HUSKY program, thereby making it more difficult for children and adults to access needed dental care. Due to the success of the dental HUSKY program, we are seeing an increase in preventive care while restorative procedures such as fillings and crowns are decreasing. This means that we are able to help prevent suffering and more costly dental repairs. Without adequate access to care, more children will go without necessary dental treatment. As a kid, it’s hard to learn when you have dental pain, and it has been shown that untreated dental cavities in children is a primary reason for lost school days.”
Dr. Berkley also notes that cuts in the program will affect adults. “Without adult dental Medicaid coverage, many Connecticut citizens will seek emergency care for oral conditions in local hospitals. The treatment of dental emergencies in private offices or public health clinics is far less costly than emergency room services that can run thousands of dollars. It is not in Connecticut’s best fiscal interest to cut the adult dental Medicaid funding as it will only increase the cost to the state on the medical side of the equation. This is not a prudent way for families to manage their own budgets – save some money now, but pay even more later – nor is it a prudent way for the State to balance its budget.”
“Oral healthcare is essential to overall health and well being. Untreated dental diseases such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, and other oral infections may lead to complications associated with heart disease and diabetes,” said Dr. Berkley. “It is important that dental care be made readily available to those who qualify for Medicaid and that adequate funding for those programs continue.”
About Connecticut State Dental Association
With approximately 2,600 members, including dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants, the Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) advocates for the public’s health and promotes the profession of dentistry. The CSDA is the trusted leader and voice for oral health care in Connecticut. For more information about the CSDA, visit the Association's Web site at www.csda.com.