Will Legislature Push Restoration of Dental Care
by Brian Leubitz
Friend of Calitics David Dayen takes a look at the California budget process and finds one cut that should be restored:
Perhaps the most critical is restoring dental care for the 3 million adults currently on Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid system.
Like many other states during the Great Recession, California eliminated its adult dental program for Medicaid in 2009, without the legislature ever voting to cut it (the Medi-Cal reductions came as part of a “trigger,” which got pulled when revenues failed to materialize). In a given year, over 300,000 poor Medi-Cal recipients would have used dental services. Instead, they either go without, letting serious dental problems fester, or they use the emergency room as their dentist, ringing up massive costs in uncompensated care. “People show up to the ER for root canals, abscesses, everything,” explained Anthony Wright, the executive director of Health Access California. “It’s far more expensive to the state to have a patient spend 2-3 days in the hospital than to pay for their checkup.” (David Dayen / Salon)
Sen. Steinberg has been pushing the restoration of dental cuts since at least January when we got some early positive revenue estimates. But dental care is one of those things that gets lost early. Legislators don’t see it as a life or death issue, though they probably should. Or maybe they should watch Frontline on the simple expenditures that can save lives and reduce costs.