Access To Dental Care Lacking For Child Medicaid Beneficiaries In Maryland

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UnitedHealth Group Senior Vice President Judah Sommer in a letter to members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Domestic Policyagreed with a panel finding that thousands of Maryland childrenenrolled in the company's Medicaid plan were unable to receive dentalcare after initially denying the claims, CQ HealthBeat reports (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 10/25).

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Subcommittee staff reviewed billing and service information from United Healthcareand found that more than 10,780 children eligible for Medicaid inMaryland have not received dental care in at least four years, and anadditional 22,110 low-income children have not seen a dentist in atleast two years. The review found that seven dentists in PrinceGeorge's County were providing more than half of dental services to thecounty's 45,000 to 50,000 child Medicaid beneficiaries. An Oct. 2letter from the subcommittee faulted United Healthcare's administrationof Medicaid beneficiaries. Steven Matthews, a spokesperson for UnitedHealthcare's Medicaid plan, responding to the report said, "We havesome serious questions about some of the material in the committee'sletter, and we would strongly disagree with the conclusions" (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/5).

Inan Oct. 18 response to the report, Sommer wrote, "We have reviewed theOct. 2 letter and we concur with the Majority staff's finding."Subcommittee Chair Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in a statement issued onWednesday said UnitedHealth's concurrence with the report "proves whatthe subcommittee has been saying all along. Medicaid-eligible childrenin Maryland do not receive the dental care to which the law entitlesthem to and for which taxpayers pay." He added that the panel wouldcontinue investigating dental care access for Medicaid-eligiblechildren.

UnitedHealth spokesperson Peter Ashkenaz said thecompany agrees with Kucinich's "focus on addressing dental care issuesfor Medicaid beneficiaries across the country. We are working closelywith the Committee and all stakeholders to improve dental care forMedicaid beneficiaries and continue to implement innovative programsthat will get children into dentists' chairs," some of which wereoutlined in the letter (CQ HealthBeat, 10/25).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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