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State Report Slams Denti-Cal

emrank / Flickr
 

emrank / Flickr

A California oversight board is calling the state dental program for low-income people “baffling, frustrating,” and “harmful.”

The Little Hoover Commission writes in a report released Friday that outdated regulations and bureaucracy create “high levels of havoc” for the 13 million Californians enrolled in Denti-Cal.

The report finds few dentists participate in Denti-Cal, and patients have trouble visiting the ones who do.

A 2014 state audit pointed to the low rate of reimbursement for Denti-Cal providers, and the commission appeared to be looking in that direction during hearings in September.

But this report does not recommend more state money. Commission chair Pedro Nava says the problems are cultural.

"I don’t see the kind of empathy for these families that ought to be there," Nava says. "I was stunned, when we met with the department. I walked out of that room absolutely underwhelmed. I did not see a passion to remedy the short-comings."

The report finds outdated regulations and excessive paperwork discourage dentists from participating in the program. Nava says Denti-Cal needs to bring in outside experts to fix what’s broken.

In a statement, the Department of Health Care Services, which administers Denti-Cal, says: "DHCS takes very seriously the recommendations made by the Little Hoover Commission, as well as concerns raised by the Legislature and stakeholders."