Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pew Center: The State of Children’s Dental Health

*****Cross Posted from Flap's Blog*****

The Pew Center on the States is up with their latest state grades on children's dental health.
More than 16 million children still lack access to basic dental care despite efforts by states to improve their dental health policies, according to this year's 50-state report card from Pew.

The State of Children's Dental Health: Making Coverage Matter graded states' ability to serve insured and soon-to-be insured children. In the face of major budget shortfalls, 22 states were able to raise their 2010 grades, proving that dental health policies can be improved at a relatively low cost.

Pew graded the states based on eight benchmarks that are a roadmap for policymakers looking to improve and expand access to children's dental health. The grades reflect changes that have occurred since Pew's initial assessment in 2010.

While many states have made significant strides in improving oral health policies, too may kids children without proper dental care, mainly because of a shortage of dentists willing to serve Medicaid-enrolled patients.
I will have more to say on their report in the morning, but for now, here are the key findings.
  • 27 states earned grades of an A or B, while 23 states and the District of Columbia received a C or lower grade.
  • 22 states raised their grades and six of them have improved by at least two letter grades: Arkansas, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Utah and West Virginia.
  • Seven states received an A grade, and five earned an F.  Three of those five states -  Florida, Hawaii and New Jersey -  got an F for the second consecutive year.
  • States that raised their grades made progress primarily by reimbursing physicians for preventative dental services, expanding water fluoridation and increasing the percentage of Medicaid-enrolled children who receive care.
  • 23 states made no progress over last year's grades.
  • Six states received lower grades mainly because Medicaid reimbursement rates have not kept pace with the growth in dentists' fees.
California received a grade of "C" which is surprising due to the fact that the state eliminated Dental Medicaid for adults. But, I suppose this is a children's report. I will discuss the methodology and their findings tomorrow.

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