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Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: Access to care

State officials can’t be satisfied with the fact that 28,000 people in the new KanCare program can’t access dental care in their own counties.

March 20, 2013

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Geographical gaps in the availability of dental care in Kansas have been an area of concern for some time, but those gaps are becoming far more serious for Kansans who depend on the state’s new Medicaid program, known as KanCare.

Dental services for children always have been included in Medicaid coverage, but KanCare extends coverage of preventive dental services to adults. That sounds great, but coverage of those services doesn’t necessarily mean that adults will be able to access care.

Information collected by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment last summer indicated that 13 Kansas counties didn’t have a single dentist practicing within their borders. That, in itself, is a significant problem. However, more recent data collected by KDHE indicate that 37 counties, more than one-third of the counties in the state, have no dentist who will accept KanCare clients. According to the Kansas Dental Project, that leaves more than 28,000 Kansans who can’t access the dental care covered by the KanCare plan without traveling to a neighboring county or, perhaps, across several counties in western parts of the state.

A Dental Project representative noted that KanCare clients in a number of other counties also may have to travel outside the county for dental care. The clients must choose from among three private managed care organizations for all of their care, and if the dentists in their county only contract with one or two of the private companies, there may be additional service gaps.

One move that likely would help close the gap is the creation of a new category of “registered dental practitioners.” The Kansas Dental Project has proposed legislation to allow dental hygienists who receive advanced training and pass a comprehensive clinical exam to work under the supervision of a dentist to provide routine and preventive care.

Having registered dental practitioners in underserved areas of the state may be part of the solution, but the large gaps in KanCare dental coverage also indicate that many dentists in the state are unwilling — for whatever reason — to provide services through the new Medicaid system. Whether it’s convenience, cost or some other issue that is causing them to shun the system, it’s up to state officials to work with dentists to make sure KanCare clients not only have coverage but can access care within a reasonable geographic area.

Comments

sciencegeek 1 year, 9 months ago

State officials may not be satisfied, but the wingnuts in the Legislature probably are. They don't believe in Medicare/KanCare or anything that helps the poor. The poor don't matter to them, because, after all, poor people are all lazy, "feeding off the public trough" (you know, like teachers and staate employees). They care only about the elites, the business owner, the rich, because they're the only ones that matter.

Talk about CINOs -Christians In Name Only.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

In an another stunning event....

Paul Ryan’s budget would kill tens of thousands of people. Every year.

How many people are we talking about? Estimates of the number of people who will die because they are uninsured vary, from about 500 to 1,000 for every one million who lack coverage. Repealing Obamacare would block promised coverage for 32 million people, so that would mean somewhere from 16,000 to 32,000 each year who will die prematurely. Of course, since some Republican governors and legislatures are not implementing the expansion of Medicaid coverage in their states, some of those deaths are already on their hands.

Which leads us to the Ryan plan for slashing Medicaid. He replaces a program that now entitles low-income people to health coverage with a block grant to states to spend however they want on health care for the poor. The federal government would save money by decreasing what it pays to state governments and states would get to do the dirty work of cutting people’s health care. That will mean fewer people on the program, higher out-of-pocket costs, or a reduction in coverage of medically necessary care. And more people dying who would have lived if they had kept their previous health coverage.

In cutting Medicaid, Ryan is fulfilling the biggest concern that Republican governors say they have when they consider expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. A typical remark came from Arizona Governor Jan Brewer: “As I weighed this decision, I was troubled by the possibility that a future President and Congress may take steps to reduce federal matching rates, leaving states with a greater and greater share of health costs over time.”

http://www.salon.com/2013/03/17/paul_ryans_budget_plan_would_literally_kill_thousands_of_americans_partner/

Richard Heckler 1 year, 9 months ago

The Paul Ryan budget is more of ALEC hard at work. Paul like Sam works for ALEC.

United States of ALEC – Bill Moyers http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27/the_united_states_of_alec_bill

ALEC – The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in State Legislatures http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec-the-voice-of-corporate-special-interests-state-legislatures

ALEX EXPOSED – The Koch Connection http://www.thenation.com/article/161973/alec-exposed-koch-connection

ALEC – Ghostwriting The Law for Corporate America http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/15044.htm

Lynn Grant 1 year, 9 months ago

"State officials can’t be satisfied with the fact that 28,000 people in the new KanCare program can’t access dental care in their own counties." Wanna bet?!

Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 9 months ago

I'll bet not a one of you that posted above would be happy with half the pay your skills bring, and then have to wait on it too. The problem is NOT with the poor or the dental community, it is with the idiots that place all the requirements and such on the industry. This is not just our current legislature, it is all of them, federal and state. They think they know better what we need, who should provide it and for how much. To hell with all of them. Get the government out of the administration and let the market take care of the problem. Costs go down do to less paperwork and hopefully services would rise.

Katara 1 year, 9 months ago

Oh of course! Because we all know that the market takes excellent care of the poor AND the dental community.

Centerville 1 year, 9 months ago

Translated (minus the hysterics): same coverage for children, more coverage for preventive care for adults.

Centerville 1 year, 9 months ago

If I'm well-off or if I'm on welfare, and I live in one of these counties, it isn't KanCare's fault that I have to travel to see a dentist. Sheesh.

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