Steinberg seeks state review of Sacramento Co. dental program

Senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg is calling for a state review of a Sacramento County pilot program that provides state-funded dental coverage for low-income children.

A Center for Health Reporting article published in The Bee over the weekend detailed the shortcomings of the managed care program, including long wait times and comparatively low rates of dental care among the more than 110,000 Sacramento County children covered by the program.

In a letter to California Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas, Steinberg called for immediate action to address what he called a "crisis in prevention and treatment services."

"Despite that state funding, disturbing specific patient cases as well as the department's own data cited in the article make it abundantly clear that prevention and treatment services are woefully inadequate for those children most in need," the Sacramento Democrat wrote in the letter.

In addition to the investigation, Steinberg asked the administration to step up its monitoring of dental plans under contract with the program and withhold payments or cancel contracts with plans that fail to provide proper access to care or meet other performance standards.

Under the "geographic managed care" program, which is mandatory in Sacramento County, the state pays private dental plans a monthly fee to cover services for children enrolled in Medi-Cal. The program began a test-run in Sacramento County in 1994, but was never expanded or canceled.

Steinberg wrote in the letter that issues with the program "raise the overarching concern of whether or not the state is prepared and equipped to proceed with any Medi-Cal managed care program expansions this year as proposed in the Governor's January budget." The Democratic governor has proposed shifting hundreds of thousands of residents eligible for both Medi-Cal and Medicare into managed care plans. His office says the change would save the state $679 million.

Find letter here.

More Stories from This Project

Governor signs bill granting poor children more flexibility in dental care

Under a budget bill signed last week by the governor, some low-income Sacramento children who have tried unsuccessfully to get dental treatment will be able to leave managed care for a program that offers more flexibility. Under the new provisions,...

Bill passed could offer dental choice to poor Sacramento kids

Some low-income children in Sacramento County who have tried but failed to get dental care would have an escape route under a bill awaiting action by the governor. Currently, dental managed care is mandatory for the roughly 100,000 Sacramento County...

LA-area legislators criticize county’s dental program for poor children

Southern California legislators are vowing to press for changes in Los Angeles County’s dental program for poor children, saying it’s unacceptable that fewer than one in four kids on managed care saw a dentist last year. “Obviously, I’m concerned,”...
  • 1 of 6

Photos from This Project

Comments

Other Articles

Stress case: What’s behind the increased demand for mental health counseling from SoCal college students?

On February 7, author Claudia Boyd-Barrett appeared on Southern California Public Radio's Air Talk with Larry Mantle to discuss her project about...

At some schools, mental health battle includes the Bible

This article originally appeared in the Orange County Register. All kinds of colleges are dealing with unprecedented student demand for mental health...

California colleges, like USC, are in the midst of a mental health care crisis. Can help come fast enough?

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News. “Are you actually going to kill yourself?” Sociology Professor...
  • 1 of 254

Other Audio

© 2018 Center for Health Reporting

Login