An independent state oversight board will review California’s troubled Denti-Cal program Thursday. That’s after a December audit found fewer than half of the program’s five million children received care.
The audit pointed to low state payments to Denti-Cal dentists as the primary problem. Payments for the most-used services came in at about a third the national average in 2013, according to the audit. So many dentists won’t see Denti-Cal patients.
Still, the Brown administration has been reluctant to raise rates, which gets expensive.
Carole D’Elia, the executive director of the Little Hoover Commission, says raising rates is “the obvious solution, but that’s been a challenge.”
The commission studies ways to improve government programs. D’Elia says Denti-Cal has other problems, which could be less expensive to fix.
“The paperwork’s a nightmare. It’s hard to even get to be a Denti-Cal dentist. So there are all these barriers in place, striking against the program,” says D’Elia.
The commission expects to produce a report next spring.