Tuesday, April 07, 2009

California Budget Woes Leave CAVITY in State's Dental Insurance Program for the Poor - Denti-Cal

The newly passed California State Budget will end a California health care safety net for adults needing dental care effective July 1.

The elimination beginning July 1 of adult Denti-Cal - the state's dental insurance program for its poorest residents - will leave a painful cavity in California's health care safety net that could prove disastrous to fill later, according to advocates for the program.

It will affect about 15,000 to 20,000 adults in San Joaquin County alone, leaving them without dental benefits. Statewide, it will affect as many as 3million adults, according to figures provided by the California HealthCare Foundation.

Many of those people will delay treatment because they cannot pay for it. Eventually, though, the treatment they will require will be more complex and expensive.
The California Legislature and Governor's office has been threatening these cuts for years. However, there have been either lawsuits preventing or last minute legislative compromises that have preserved the program.

This year the program may go because of California's massive budget deficit.

There may be a reprieve if federal economic stimulus dollars can be used to backfill the program but for now there is massive uncertainty.

And, what will be the repercussions?

  • Community health clinics treating the poor WILL close and dentists, plus auxiliary personnel will be laid off.
  • More emergency room visits by the poor for dental related infections

Stay tuned.....

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