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Medicaid Payments Linked to Dental Care in Children

Dental care receipt for children and adolescents linked to higher Medicaid payments to dentists

TUESDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Children with Medicaid use dental care more frequently than uninsured children, with changes in state Medicaid payments positively correlated with higher receipt of dental care, according to a study published in the July 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sandra L. Decker, Ph.D., from the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Hyattsville, Md., examined the association between state Medicaid dental fees and the receipt of dental care among children in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Data on Medicaid dental fees in 2000 and 2008 and from 33,657 children aged 2 to17 years from the National Health Interview Survey for the years 2000 to 2001 and 2008 to 2009 were merged. Models were used to estimate the likelihood of a child visiting a dentist within the six months prior to the investigation dates as a function of the Medicaid prophylaxis fee.

The author found that Medicaid dental payment levels did not change significantly between 2000 and 2008, after adjusting for inflation. Differences were seen in some states, including payment increases of 50 percent in five states and the District of Columbia. In 2008 to 2009, 55 percent of children covered by Medicaid had seen a dentist in the previous six months, compared to 27 percent of uninsured children and 68 percent of children covered by private insurance. A positive association was found between changes in state Medicaid dental payment fees between 2000 and 2008 and the use of dental care in children covered by Medicaid.

"Higher Medicaid payment levels to dentists were associated with higher rates of receipt of dental care among children and adolescents," the author writes.

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