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Medi-Cal's Dental Program Takes Another Hit

Medi-Cal’s Dental Program Takes Another Hit
Finding a dentist who's willing to treat Denti-Cal patients is getting tougher now that Western Dental will no longer see those patients.

Problems continue to mount for Medi-Cal’s dental program called Denti-Cal.

Western Dental, the state’s largest chain of for-profit dental clinics, says it will no longer treat new Denti-Cal patients.

Western joins a growing number of dental providers who say Denti-Cal’s reimbursement rates are just too low.

Dr. John Blake, executive director of the nonprofit Children’s Dental Health Clinic in Long Beach, said Denti-Cal pays only about $20 for a cleaning. That doesn't even cover his costs.

"Fifty percent of our income comes from donated sources — either foundations, grants or individuals," Blake said.

Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget does not contain more money for Denti-Cal providers.

State health officials say they hope to get new federal funds that they could use to attract providers to treat Denti-Cal patients.

More than 2.7 million low-income adults and children have Denti-Cal coverage.

According to a report from the California state auditor, more than half of all children on Medi-Cal did not see a dentist in 2013.