Why Dental Exclusion Works for Florida
As a dentist in Florida, I have experienced firsthand the challenges of meeting the dental needs of residents, especially vulnerable and special needs patients.
Over the past four years, under Florida’s current stand-alone managed dental care program, access to care and quality of care have improved dramatically. Recently, state officials have explored legislative proposals, including House Bill 7047, which would eliminate this dental exclusion program and reintegrate dental benefits into the managed medical assistance program. This change would pose a major threat to children’s dental care in the state.
That’s why I want to thank the Florida Legislature for recognizing the importance of keeping Medicaid dental services separate from the Medicaid medical program.
Six years ago, the Legislature directed the State Agency for Health Care Administration to establish the dental benefit as a stand-alone managed care program, separate from other health benefits. The goal was to improve access to dental care, improve the quality of care, and leave dental coverage to the stewardship of dental industry experts to deliver and manage benefits. Three qualified stand-alone dental plans have been contracted to provide dental services to Floridians, and these plans now provide comprehensive dental services for children and required dental benefits for adults. They have also stepped up their efforts to provide additional benefits for adults at no additional cost to the state.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reduced the use of health care services, including dental care. While many hospitals, community clinics and other health care facilities have had to reduce their services or move them to other facilities, under the stand-alone managed dental care program, dental plans have been able to direct members with urgent needs to supplier offices. it can help. Additionally, dental plans have introduced innovative programs during the pandemic, such as teledentistry, drive-thru and other community events, each of which is improving awareness and education and providing needed care. to their registrants.
The truth is that parents are satisfied with the care their children have received through the self-managed dental care program. Patient satisfaction surveys show that parents of enrolled children rate their dental care as the highest of three rating categories, at 88%, according to analysis by accompanying staff HB 7047.
The dental plans have comprehensive statewide networks in place to ensure that all related dental care is available to those who need it, when they need it. This includes children with special needs and developmental disabilities, who have been served by a contract office network that has grown to more than 1,000 offices across the state. This is why the current exclusion system works for Florida.
For these reasons and more, I commend the Florida Legislature for retaining the current dental exclusion model as bills move through the House and Senate.
Jorge LandaDMD, is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist and Head of the Dental Department at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital,