By Lyle Hillyard
Senate Chair of Executive Appropriations
The Utah Medicaid Adult Dental program will end the fiscal year with one million dollars in the bank. We appropriated $3.8 million from the General Fund; they only expect to spend $2.8 million by June 30, 2006.
State Medicaid officials say 1) fewer dentists are willing to participate in the program because the reimbursement rates are too low; 2) less people enrolled than they projected; and 3) there is less pent-up demand because of the emergency program instituted for fiscal year 2005.
It’s strange to hear people call for an extension of the program when almost one-third of last year’s money went unused.
To me, it makes more sense to increase the reimbursement rates so more dentists are willing to participate. Medicaid recipients will then have providers available in their time of need.
It makes sense to look at all the programs in context, balance competing priorities, and put the money where it will actually be used. We’ll do that in January.