Impact of 'cavity kids'

Reaction to the center's story about problems with geographic dental managed care in Sacramento County was swift and far-reaching.

The day after the initial article ran in The Sacramento Bee, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg penned a letter to DHCS director Toby Douglas demanding an investigation into the failures of the program and calling for corrective steps.

In his initial response -- and in subsequent letters -- Douglas promised immediate action, including beefed-up enforcement, a quicker complaint process and a mailing to all Sacramento Medi-Cal recipients with information on how to access care and resolve concerns. He also vowed to toughen new contracts with dental plans that take effect Jan. 1, 2013.

Douglas called on dental plans, too, to take steps, such as phone-call campaigns to beneficiaries who have not seen a dentist in the past year.

The Department of Managed Health Care also has some authority over dental plans, and has embarked on an immediate review of the five dental plans that participate in Sacramento’s program.

Steinberg introduced legislation that would break the monopoly that managed care has over Sacramento County's managed care dental program. Steinberg's bill would make managed care voluntary and allow recipients to choose fee-for-service.

Throughout, the issue was been debated at multiple legislative hearings. Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, chaired a special Capitol hearing about this and the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors aired their concerns at one of their meetings and promised to advocate for the fee-for-service option that Steinberg has proposed.

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