In late February, California’s Department of Health Care Services announced the 15 proposals selected for its Local Dental Pilot Project—with awards totaling $150 million spread across the next four years.
These pilot projects are one component of the state’s Dental Transformation Initiative (DTI)to broaden access to dental care for the roughly 5 million children enrolled in Denti-Cal coverage programs. Many of the local pilots selected will target patient populations that have limited access to care in both urban and rural areas.
In a previous post, we discussed the gap in dental care for the millions of children enrolled in Denti-Cal and the proposed legislation in the state house to bring reimbursement rates in line with the rest of the country. California’s low reimbursement rates compared to other states has led in part to a shortage of dentists willing to accept Denti-Cal patients.
The California Dental Association published a helpful update recently with more information on the pilot projects in question. Some of these pilots will employ teledentistry techniques in order to reach more patients with, say, a traveling hygienist, while the dentist can review cases remotely and travel to treat only when absolutely necessary.
California still faces a “silent, hidden epidemic of tooth decay and disease” tied to its “dreadful” Denti-Cal reimbursement rates, according to the Little Hoover Commission. But these stopgap pilot programs may provide welcome relief in some quarters.