June 14, 2002 Contact: Gina Sandoval
For Immediate Release email@example.com
This Dental Program is Working!
Michigan Medicaid Healthy Kids Dental Program May Hold Key to
Improving Access to Oral Health Care
Chicago, Ill. – An analysis of the first year efforts of the Michigan Healthy Kids Dental Program,
a unique state experiment to improve Medicaid, demonstrates that the program is working.
“This may be the solution for oral health access that the rest of the country should emulate,”
said David K. Curtis, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
The Michigan Healthy Kids Dental Program is a unique contract between the Michigan
Department of Community Health and the Delta Dental Plan of Michigan to administer the
Medicaid dental benefit using Delta’s Premier dental benefits plan. The program provides
Medicaid-enrolled children under 21, in selected counties, with a private dental insurance plan
that features a large network of providers. Delta Dental pays 100 percent of most dentists’
charges up to plan limits and removes many of the administrative problems common to
Medicaid programs in other states.
“Michigan verifies what many child advocates have recommended—if a state runs their
Medicaid dental program more like a high-quality private insurance program, more dentists
will participate and more kids will get needed care,” said Burton L. Edelstein, founding director
of the Children’s Dental Health Project.
According to the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan,
which evaluated this demonstration for the state of Michigan, the impact of the Michigan
Healthy Kids Dental Program has been dramatic:
• The number of area dentists participating in Medicaid increased over 300 percent,
providing greater geographic access to services.
• Dental visits increased dramatically, from 18 percent to 44 percent of eligible children,
closing 50 percent of the “gap” between utilization of dental services by Medicaid
children and those covered by Delta’s private commercial plans.
• Travel distances for families were cut in half!
Once their initial treatment needs are met, children are returning for regular maintenance
care. As a result, they need fewer emergency services for toothaches, and treatment costs are
dropping to levels comparable to commercially insured children.
The Michigan Healthy Kids Dental Program did not just “tweak” the failed state Medicaid
program. It dramatically increased reimbursement rates, eliminated administrative hassles, and
operated the program like a well-run private insurance benefit.
What is fiscally reassuring is that providing a quality Medicaid dental benefit to children
does not break the bank. The average contract cost per month per enrolled child in the Michigan
Healthy Kids Dental Program is only $12. Thus, other states that attempt to duplicate
Michigan’s success will be able to obtain dramatic improvements in access at a reasonable cost.
It is also noteworthy that legislation currently before the U.S. Congress (S. 1626, H.R. 3659)
would assist states that attempt such innovative approaches as the Michigan Healthy Kids
Dental Program. Dr. Edelstein will be testifying about this issue before the U.S. Senate’s
Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on June 25th, during a hearing on
children’s access to oral health care.
The Michigan Healthy Kids Dental Program was initially implemented in May 2000 in
22 counties and subsequently expanded to 37 counties in October 2000. Future plans call for
expansion to at least 80 of Michigan’s 83 counties. A complete copy of the program evaluation
is available on the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Web site at
www.michigan.gov/mdch under “Statistics and Reports.”
Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) is the non-profit membership
organization representing the specialty of pediatric dentistry. The AAPD’s nearly 5,000 members are primary care
providers who also provide comprehensive specialty treatments for infants, children, adolescents and patients with
special health care needs. As advocates of children’s oral health, the AAPD works closely with legislators,
professional associations and health care professionals to develop policies and guidelines, implement research
opportunities in pediatric oral health, and educate pediatric dentists, health care providers and the public regarding
pediatric oral health. For further information regarding the AAPD, please visit our Web site at www.aapd.org.
The Children’s Dental Health Project (CDHP) is a non-profit organization established in 1997 as a strategic
alliance of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and
the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). With primary support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation,
the Project promotes children’s oral health and access to dental care through advancements in public policy and
clinical policy. The CDHP maintains an office at the ADEA headquarters office in Washington, D.C. Funds for
CDHP’s daily operating expenses and support staff are provided by the AAPD. For further information regarding
the CDHP, please visit our Web site at www.cdhp.org.