Managed care can improve Medicaid dental services

PORTLAND, ME—How states are beginning to measure and improve their dental services under Medicaid is described in a new report from the National Academy for State Health Policy.

"Dental Care in Medicaid Managed Care: Report from a 19-State Survey" details the kinds of services provided under selected state Medicaid programs and how states are beginning improve access to dental care.

"Managed care offers an opportunity for Medicaid agencies to improve the delivery of dental care," concludes the report by Neva Kaye, the Academy’s director of the Medicaid Managed Care Resource Center, and policy analyst Cynthia Pernice.

As with medical benefits, states increasingly are turning to utilization data, consumer satisfaction surveys, and financial data to measure the performance of their dental managed care programs. In addition, states are holding plans to standards on such measures as waiting time for dental appointments and providers’ ability to communicate in different languages.

While all Medicaid programs must offer dental services to children as part of their Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment program, the authors note that 11 of the 19 states surveyed also offer comprehensive adult dental benefits.

A complete copy of the report is available through the Academy at (207) 874-6524.