Adequate funding increases preventive care and reduces costly emergency services
The Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) today urged Connecticut’s General Assembly to maintain adequate funding of the Medicaid dental program for children and adults. Reducing Medicaid provider reimbursement rates will result in more expensive emergency care and increased cost to the state.
“We understand that the legislature faces an unprecedented budget crisis this session and has difficult choices to make,” said CSDA President Dr. Michael Ungerleider. “However, cutting funding to the dental Medicaid program will only result in patients seeking care in the emergency room. The state will have to pick up the tab and the patients will suffer.”
It has been reported that the cost of emergency room visits for dental care can exceed ten times the cost of care in a private dental office, and more often than not, emergency room care for dental issues is not definitive and doesn’t always address the underlying dental problem. For example, when California cut benefits in their adult dental program, they saw a 32% increase in emergency department visits which cost the Medicaid program $1.25 million per year.
“Not only do cuts to dental Medicaid negatively impact the state budget, because there will be an increase in costs due to emergency room visits, but we’ve seen firsthand the benefits of adequate funding,” Ungerleider said. “When the rates were changed in 2008 for the HUSKY dental program, Connecticut saw a dramatic increase in the number of participating dentists and in the number of children accessing and using dental care. Utilization of services by Medicaid children in our state is higher than the national utilization rate for private insurance. That’s made Connecticut a national leader.”
Connecticut’s HUSKY dental program provides access to routine oral care including health screenings for cancer, as well as comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and restorative care for children and adults.
“We urge the legislature to maintain funding for this vital program,” Ungerleider said. “We’ve made a huge difference in the lives of some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Now is not the time to go back on our commitment to their health and wellbeing.”