More kids see dentists when Medicaid rates rise

Jul 12, 2011, 1:28 p.m.

But Martin, who wasn't involved in the new study, said it's "frightening" that some payment rates are now being rolled back in states trying to make their bottom line.

"You're staring down at a significant deficit and you've got to balance the budget and trim reimbursement rates where you can," she told Reuters Health. "I am concerned about shortsightedness because we know...if you can get kids in care, keep them in dental care, you actually save money over the life span."

Martin added that good dental health is also important for general physical health, so regular cleanings could cut down on later doctors' bills as well.

As members of both government parties try to save money by reforming Medicare and Medicaid, Martin said that regardless of the changes that happen under the new healthcare law, Medicaid reimbursement rates will still be decided by individual states. But loss of funding will put those benefits in serious danger, she added.

Decker said it's important to realize that it's not only whether or not someone is covered by Medicaid that matters. Her new findings show that "there are other attributes of the program that affect what kind of care people get, or if they get care at all."

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/rnslfz Journal of the American Medical Association, online July 12, 2011.

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