Medicine and dentistry are different, which often leads to less participation by dentists in Medicaid. I also completely understand the drawbacks of being a Medicaid (MA) provider because I am one.
The MA pilot has raised reimbursement rates in four counties to levels that are equivalent to many preferred provider organization or PPO fee schedules. These rates are paid within 30 days with properly filled out paperwork and there is no need to discuss or slow down treatment due to out-of-pocket costs for patients.
I bet most of you have heard that there is a lot less interest in the teaching profession since Act 10. I believe it is because many teachers are complaining. Maybe if more experienced dentists told young dentists they can and should take MA patients, we wouldn’t be so far behind the physicians.
If your chair is empty from 2 to 3 p.m., you do not lose money if you see a MA patient even at 34 cents on the dollar. You would pay all those bills anyway. Yet dental students are told repeatedly that they will lose money on EVERY MA patient they see.
Reports like the one issued by the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute are problematic, but not because they give our profession a black eye. There are just under 6 million people in Wisconsin and over 1 million are on Medicaid. The real problem is the lack of access and care for one-sixth of our state’s population. I hope fixing that problem is more important than bad press from an accurate report.
We can, and should, collectively and individually do our utmost to ensure the dental MA pilot’s success. Please sign up to be a provider if you work in Brown, Marathon, Polk or Racine counties. You can limit your practice (e.g., children only, one day of the week, emergency only), as long as you don’t discriminate based on religion, race, etc.
The success of the pilot is critical to all in our profession, whether you take MA or not.
Without a financial investment, it will be impossible to solve the access problem. If the pilot does not succeed, a financial investment is extremely unlikely which will make the problem that much more difficult to solve.
Medicaid Fee-For-Service Reimbursement Rates for Child and Adult Dental Care Services for all States
Medicaid Fee-for-Service Reimbursement and Provider Participation for Dentists and Physicians in Every State