Medicaid Cuts for Children’s Dental Services is “Penny-wise and Pound-foolish”
HARTFORD, CT - The Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) today expressed concern regarding the impact that Governor Malloy’s proposed 10% cut in Medicaid Reimbursement Rates for Children’s Dental Services. This cut would have a significant impact on the children who receive these services.
“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 10% cut to Medicaid Reimbursement Rates for Children’s Dental Services,” said Dr. William Nash, President of the Connecticut State Dental Association. “Over the past eight 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. Nash explained.
As a result of policy changes in 2008, which increased reimbursement rates and eliminated administrative hurdles, Connecticut was able to significantly increase the number of dentists participating in the program between 2008 and 2013. By increasing the number of dentists who accept HUSKY plans, quality, affordable dental care is now very accessible to a larger number of Connecticut residents, and as a result, Connecticut’s HUSKY program, is a national leader among State Medicaid dental plans. According to the December 2015 American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute (HPI) report, 64% of Medicaid-enrolled children in Connecticut visited the dentist in 2013. This number increased significantly from the 32% of Medicaid enrolled children who visited a dentist in 2005.
The CSDA believes that 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. Nash. “Cutting reimbursement rates will cause dentists to drop out of the HUSKY program, thereby making it more difficult for children 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.”
“Proper dental care is extremely important to maintaining overall physical health at any age,” said Dr. Nash. “It is important that dental care be made readily available to those who qualify for Medicaid and that adequate funding for those programs continue.”