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California's Dental Program Gains Patients While Losing Dentists

California’s Dental Program Gains Patients While Losing Dentists
A new state review of the Denti-Cal program, shows between 2009 and 2014, the number of children enrolled in the Denti-Cal program increased by nearly 40 percent.

California's dental program for the poor is falling short.

A new state review of the Denti-Cal program, shows between 2009 and 2014, the number of children enrolled in the Denti-Cal program increased by nearly 40 percent.

But the number of dentists who treated Denti-Cal patients decreased by almost 14 percent.

Denti-Cal pays less than one-third of the commercial insurance rate.

Jenny Kattlove, programs director of The Children's Partnership, a nonprofit advocacy group, said dentists who treat kids with Denti-Cal coverage take a financial hit.

“The state really needs to look at its priorities and set rates higher, so that it can attract enough quality providers," Kattlove said.

State lawmakers recently reversed a ten percent Denti-Cal pay cut that took effect in 2013. But the California Dental Association says if the state wants to get more dentists in the program, it needs to increase Denti-Cal rates.