HARTFORD, CT March 7, 2013 — More children enrolled in HUSKY A accessed dental care services thanks to an increase in reimbursement rates to dental providers and other administrative changes, according to a new brief from the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health).
According to the brief, Impact of Increased Dental Reimbursement Rates on HUSKY A-Insured Children 2006-2011, Connecticut’s 10 largest cities (with the highest concentration of low-income children), as well as nearly all of the state’s 169 towns, experienced significant utilization increase to rates similar to private insurance.
“This increase in access to dental care services means that fewer low-income children will experience oral disease, pain and infection and days lost from school because of inadequate access to basic dental care,” said President & CEO Patricia Baker.
CT Health commissioned co-authors Tryfon Beazoglou, PhD and Joanna Douglass, DDS from the UConn School of Dental Medicine to conduct the study with support from the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS). DSS provided Medicaid enrollment and encounter data before 2006 and after (2009-2011) the reimbursement rate increase and implementation of the new administration structure.
“Access to dental care services for children and youth has increased more so in Connecticut than any other state in the U.S.,” said co-author Tryfon Beazoglou. “This is across almost every town in Connecticut – 158 out of 169 towns. HUSKY A children in Connecticut have the best access in the nation. I don’t know of any other state with this level of access.”
Selected Key Findings
- Connecticut’s 10 largest cities (with highest concentration of low-income children), as well as- nearly all of the state’s 169 towns, experienced significant utilization increase to rates similar to private insurance
- One hundred and fifty eight of Connecticut’s 169 towns experienced double-digit increases in children accessing dental care services between 2006 and 2011.
- 2011 utilization rate of children continuously enrolled in HUSKY A is similar to the rate of 65 percent for children enrolled in private insurance plans. This is an increase up from 45 percent in 2006.
- Private dentists participation in the Medicaid program more than doubled between 2006 and 2010 – from 416 submitted at least one Medicaid claim in 2006 versus 937 in 2010.
In 2008, the Greater Hartford Legal Aid and the Connecticut Legal Services brought a lawsuit (Carr v. Wilson-Coker) on behalf of Connecticut children enrolled in HUSKY A who could not access basic dental services. The lawsuit resulted in the State of Connecticut raising HUSKY A dental reimbursement rates to 70 percent of private insurance rates.
As a result of the lawsuit, stakeholders, CT Health’s investment, policy research and analysis, Connecticut has emerged as a national leader in improving access to dental health for low-income children. In 2010, Connecticut rated an “A” for improving children’s dental health over a 10-year period and ranked fourth nationwide for increasing its Medicaid reimbursement rate and meeting six of eight policy benchmarks, according to the Pew Center for the States Report, The Cost of Delay: State Dental Policies Fail One in Five Children.
“This health issues brief tells an important public health story of significant success,” said Baker. “To preserve these gains, rates must be periodically adjusted to levels similar to those of private insurance, and HUSKY A dental program administration and management must continue to be streamlined to encourage private dentist participation.”
About the Connecticut Health Foundation
The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) is the state’s largest independent health philanthropy dedicated to improving lives by changing health systems. Since it was established in July 1999, the foundation has supported innovative grant-making, public health policy research, technical assistance and convening to achieve its mission – to improve the health of the people of Connecticut.
Over the past 12 years, CT Health has awarded grants totaling more than $49.4 million in 45 cities and towns throughout the state in three priority areas:
- Improving access to children’s mental health services
- Reducing racial and ethnic health disparities
- Expanding access to and use of children’s oral health services