Letter: Dental care for those on medical assistance is at a critical point – Alexandria Echo Press

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For the editor:

We are proud of Minnesota and the services provided to our citizens. Unfortunately, the ability to access dental care for Minnesotans on medical assistance (MA) is at risk. Many Minnesotans often drive for hours to receive care. Unable to access care in their communities, many use hospital emergency rooms as their dental practices. Worse still, many may be forced to postpone care due to lack of access until they are in crisis.

Several factors contributed to this crisis. Minnesota is the lowest in the nation for dental reimbursement. The State of Minnesota bases fees paid to dental providers on a 1989 fee schedule. What was reasonable 32 years ago is woefully inadequate in 2021.

Another issue that complicates delivery is transparency. Minnesota contracts with several managed care organizations (MCOs) to administer MA. While this should promote better care delivery, it results in an administratively complicated system for providers and limited access for patients. Due to the proprietary nature of contracts with MCOs, the state lacks visibility into how dollars are being spent on patient care.

The Minnesota Legislature is currently debating a restructuring of Minnesota’s dental Medicaid system. The home proposed increasing reimbursement of 1989 rates to a proportion of 2018 rates. To promote transparency, Minnesota would transition to a single dental administrator for its dental programs.

We are at a critical point where either significant improvements must be made or the current system will continue its course towards collapse.

Jim Nickman, DDS, MS
President, Minnesota Dental Association
Lino Lakes, MN

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