Legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) have agreed on a budget plan that restores partial funding for dental services in Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program.
Northern California legislators and dental providers have been at the forefront of a campaign over the past four years to get dental coverage for Medi-Cal adults restored. For many advocates and stakeholders, this week’s budget news was considered a partial victory. Although not the complete restoration of $131 million sought, the state plans to spend about $16.9 million this fiscal year and $77 million next year on dental coverage. The money will provide preventive care, dental restorations and full dentures for adult beneficiaries of Medi-Cal.
Restoring adult coverage in Denti-Cal was considered a priority for California Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).
“Dental care is so essential to physical health and employability,” Steinberg said. “The current alternatives are gum disease and use of hospital emergency rooms at the expense of taxpayers, which is unacceptable.”
Lindsey Robinson, a pediatric dentist in Grass Valley and president of the California Dental Association, called the agreement “a significant achievement in the effort to restore all adult Denti-Cal services and a step in the right direction to address the oral health care crisis facing millions of Californians.”
by Mari Edlin, California Healthline Regional Correspondent