Dentist deplores ending prepaid dental program

December 15, 2013 

I was stunned to read an Agency for Health Care Administration statement regarding its abolishing of the Prepaid Dental Health Plan. In it, AHCA blatantly admits the very thing that people around the state have been troubled by: The rollout of statewide managed care will mean the dollars that once went exclusively toward children's dental will now go toward adults, too. Technically, plans could spend these dollars on anything they choose.

This is remarkably bad policy. It reeks of collusion between AHCA and the health plans. And of all benefit categories to undermine, children's dental is the most unprepared.

Florida has ranked the lowest in the nation for dental care to low-income children. The prepaid dental program was the first thing to reverse these trends.

As a pediatric dentist, I know that integrating Medicaid dental benefits into health plans is a bad move. But you don't have to take my word for it. Plenty of other states have tried to do this, and have seen outcomes fail.

A coordinated effort by dentists and lawmakers is underway to protect children's dental care. State Sen. Anitere Flores and State Rep. Jose Pepe Diaz filed SB 340 and HB 27 to maintain the prepaid program.

AHCA's formal reply to these bills was not only inaccurate, but it queued the community to AHCA's real intentions: a gift to $200 million gift to insurers that comes at the expense of kids. AHCA stated that these changes will not cost anything to taxpayers. To that I say, kids pay a higher price than taxes when they don't get the care they so need.

Without this care, children's lives will suffer in terms of their systemic health, their grades, and their happiness.

Dr. Harry Bopp, DMD

Lakeland

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