Letter: Dental care for people receiving medical assistance is at a critical point
We are proud of Minnesota and the services available to our citizens. Unfortunately, the ability to access dental care for Minnesotans under medical assistance (MA) is in jeopardy. Many Minnesota residents often drive for hours to receive care. Unable to access care in their community, many use hospital emergency rooms as dental homes. Worse yet, many may be forced to postpone care due to lack of access until they are in crisis.
Several factors have contributed to this crisis. Minnesota has the lowest dental reimbursement in the country. The state of Minnesota bases the fees paid to dental providers on a 1989 fee schedule. What was reasonable 32 years ago is woefully inadequate in 2021.
Another issue that complicates delivery is transparency. Minnesota contracts with several managed care organizations (MCOs) to administer AD. While this should promote better delivery of care, the result is an administratively complicated system for providers and limited access for patients. Due to the exclusive nature of contracts with MCOs, the state lacks visibility into how dollars are spent on patient care.
The Minnesota legislature is debating a restructuring of the Medicaid dental system in Minnesota. The house proposed to increase the 1989 rate rebate to a proportion of 2018 rates. To facilitate transparency, Minnesota would move to a single dental administrator for its dental programs.
We are at a critical point where either significant improvements need to be made or the current system will continue to collapse.
Jim Nickman, DDS, MS
President, Minnesota Dental Association
Lino Lakes, Minnesota