Growing number of state's dentists treating Medicaid patients

Almost 30 percent of the state's dentists now accept Medicaid patients, up from 12 percent a year and a half ago. Here's a brief explanation of why the number has grown:

Despite its goal of providing universal healthcare, Massachusetts has had trouble getting dentists to treat people insured by MassHealth, or Medicaid. But it's now quicker and easier for dentists to enroll and submit claims since a private company began administering the state's dental program 18 months ago. Jaime Corliss of Health Care for All says that has led to a 20 percent jump in MassHealth patients receiving dental care.

"As a result of the improvements to the system more dentists are coming onboard. There's still some work to be done but this shows that we are making progress."

One remaining hurdle is increasing reimbursement rates for dentists who treat MassHealth patients. The state's reimbursement rate is about half what private insurers pay.

This program aired on August 26, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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Martha Bebinger Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.



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