Legislators & Governor considering increase in reimbursement rates to help improve dental access

Saint Paul  – –  In a letter sent to the Minnesota Department of Human Services last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) notified the state that Minnesota children enrolled in Medicaid are receiving dental services at an unacceptably low rate, and that unless children’s access to dental services improves the state is at risk of losing needed federal funding. CMS has given the state 90 days to submit a plan for substantively improving dental care access for Minnesota’s children enrolled in Medicaid.

In Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2015, only 41% of all Minnesota Medicaid-enrolled children received dental care, according to CMS. This is well below the national average of 50%. In the same year, only 37% of Minnesota Medicaid-enrolled children received preventive dental care, compared to a national average of 46%.

“Sadly, right now, Minnesota should be too embarrassed to smile. Minnesota has been put on notice that our low-income children are not receiving the dental care they need, and it is critical that the legislature act this session to improve access across the state,” said Carmelo Cinqueonce, Executive Director of the Minnesota Dental Association. “We urge the legislature and Governor Dayton to invest in a substantial rate increase for dental services and make reforms to the current administrative and payment structures. Done together, these actions have been proven to increase access to dental services in other states, and they will help bring Minnesota up from the bottom of the pack in terms of access to dental care.”

Governor Dayton has proposed a 54% rate increase for dental services in his budget, along with reforms to the administrative and payment structure. The Senate proposed a smaller rate increase, along with simplifications to the payment structure. Unfortunately, the House bill did not include a rate increase.

Relying on minimal rate increases alone has proven insufficient to improving access to care. According to the Minnesota Dental Association, the state should invest in a significant rate increase, coupled with a simplification to the administrative and payment structures at the Department of Human Services, in order to substantially improve access to dental care for low-income Minnesota children.

“Access to dental care is reaching crisis levels for Minnesota’s children,” said Cinqueonce. “The legislature must act now not only so we don’t lose federal funding that the state relies on, but so that our children get the care they need.”


Letter from CMS Director Anne Marie Costello 
Letter from DHS Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper
Learn more about the Help Minnesota Smile Campaign at http://www.helpmnsmile.org

The Minnesota Dental Association is the voice of dentistry in Minnesota, representing practicing dentists. It is committed to the highest standards of oral health and access to care for all Minnesotans. You can learn more at www.mndental.org.