Sunday, February 06, 2005

Problems with Privitized Dental MediCaid in Florida

An excellent article about the problems with a privitized dental medicaid program in Florida:

Rotten Teeth, Rotten Politics, Part II

Local 10 Investigated Privatization Of Dental Care

In Part I of our Problem Solver Investigation "Rotten Teeth, Rotten Politics?" reporter Jilda Unruh showed you how some of Miami-Dade County's poorest children are having to scavenge for dental care.Critics said this dental debacle is being repeated over and over in Miami-Dade County as a result of a dramatic change in the way the state provides for dental care in the county.

It's been seven months since Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature privatized the dental Medicaid program for children in Miami-Dade County -- Medicaid coverage for children like Medicaid mom Sylvia Latimer's two girls.

Latimer, talking about her youngest daughter, said, "I know she gets headaches, sometimes really bad headaches."Latimer told Jilda that her daughter's mouth doesn't close properly because of an underbite.

In December, Latimer told Jilda she had been trying since July to get her kids a dental appointment.Jilda: "How many dentists did you call for an appointment under the ADI (Atlantic Dental, Inc.) plan?"Latimer: "I don't know. Anywhere between 30 and 40."

So why are Latimer and other Medicaid families with whom Local 10 spoke having such a hard time seeing a dentist? They said the problems began in July when the state gave a private company called Atlantic Dental, Inc. a contract worth around $18 million a year to manage Miami-Dade's dental Medicaid program for kids.

Latimer said, "The way it was, you were a human. The way it is, you are not."The way it worked before ADI, and the way it still works in the rest of the state, is that dentists provide treatment and get paid by the state a fee for their service.Now, ADI is responsible for paying those dentists, many of whom have stopped serving poor children because they say ADI will pay then only $4 per child per month. They describe it as a money-losing proposition.

Read the rest here.

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