Georgia Lawmakers Discuss Concerns About Medicaid, SCHIP Beneficiaries
Georgia lawmakers on Tuesday discussed concerns about low- and middle-income families' access to dental coverage after the state last fall shifted nearly one million Medicaid and PeachCare beneficiaries to "care management organizations," Morris/Augusta Chronicle reports. PeachCare is Georgia's version of SCHIP.
Beneficiaries were shifted to care management organizations, which are similar to HMOs, in an effort to reduce costs. However, one of the three companies operating the plans has decided to terminate its contract with a dental provider with several offices in the western region of the state, and two of the plans are considering terminating contracts with a mobile dental lab that operates in counties throughout Georgia.
Lawmakers also are concerned that the plans have stopped accepting new dentists in their networks and by complaints that plans too frequently changet he terms of agreements with existing dentists, according to Morris/Chronicle.State Sen. Greg Goggans (R), chair of the panel that controls state health care funding, said, "If we're talking about a problem with access, why would we limit the number of dentists?"
Kent Jenkins -- senior vice president for communications for AmeriGroup,one of the companies operating the organizations -- said, "The demand for dental care has been much higher than the state or anybody anticipated," adding that prices for dental care in Georgia are much higher than what companies expected when they started the plans nearly a year ago. Jenkins also said the company is not rejecting dentist sout right but is being careful in establishing the terms for dentists who would join the network (Larrabee, Morris/Augusta Chronicle, 8/29).