As America’s population ages, the shortage of dental care for the nation’s elders presents a growing problem.
Many seniors lack public or private coverage that would help defray the cost of dental services, according to a new fact sheet from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
“Perhaps the single greatest barrier is the inability to afford care,” Pew noted in its brief. “Seniors with dental insurance are 2.5 times more likely than those without coverage to visit a dentist and about half of seniors lacked insurance in 2015.” Continue reading
Photo: Don via FlickrNashville cemetery statue
Last week we posted an update on mental health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, so let’s follow up with a look at what’s going on in Tennessee, courtesy of Holly Fletcher at The Tennessean.
Tennessee is among the 19 states that have not taken up Medicaid expansion under the ACA. This summer a Tennessee legislative task force put forth a proposal for a partial expansion program, with the first stage focusing in large part on people with mental illness or substance abuse disorders. If approved – which isn’t certain – it could later be expanded, but only if it meets cost and quality objectives. As Fletcher reported, that’s not so easy. Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, last year tried to enact a market-based version, only to be blocked by a more conservative legislature, as one commentator noted in the newspaper. Continue reading
At least a dozen states compel family caregivers to provide unpaid assistance to qualify for Medicaid-funded home and community based services (HCBS), according to a report from the elder advocacy group Justice in Aging. The report features cases from the state of Florida in which there was a denial of benefits for needy elders, regardless of the caregiver’s employment hours or need for weekend respite care. Continue reading
It almost seems like a no-brainer that dovetailing care between Medicare and Medicaid will have positive effects on the population of dual-eligible older adults.
In reality, care and payment under these systems is often fragmented and disjointed, a frustrating scenario for primary care providers and detrimental to patients. A new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) on The Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO) program reinforces the need for improved service coordination. Continue reading
Denti-Cal, California’s Medicaid dental program, faces ongoing challenges in getting care to its roughly 13 million beneficiaries. Only about half the children and a quarter of the adults covered by the program are getting dental services. As in other states, a shortage of participating dentists is a major problem and there are other troubles as well.
In a recent piece for California Healthline, reporter Ana Ibarra looked at efforts to reform the system. In this new Q&A for AHCJ, Ibarra reflects upon the future of Denti-Cal and discusses the rest of her complex and rich beat as a web reporter for California Healthline. She also shares some advice on the value of journalism fellowships in developing skills and making connections that can help reporters excel. Read more.