Iowa got an “A” grade on a new national study of how states are ensuring proper dental health for children and their access to dental care. Shelly Gehshan, director of the children’s dental campaign for the Pew Center on the States, says the report is based on eight main criteria in four categories.
“The first is how well states are preventing dental problems in the first place,” Gehshan says. “The second set is how well they’re improving access to children on Medicaid. The third is whether or not they’re getting providers to take care of children and the fourth set is, are they tracking progress so they can even figure out how well they’re doing.” While Iowa was among the top-ranked states in the report, Gehshan says there’s still room for improvement.
“Iowa is doing well, but getting an A does not mean that your work is done,” Gehshan says. “One of the things they need to do is to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates for dentists because they are below the cost of providing the care. The dentists lose money on every Medicaid patient they see which is why it’s so hard to get children into a dentist if they’re enrolled in Medicaid.” Iowa was among seven states that got A’s on the study, while nine states got F’s — with New Jersey ranking last.
“Two-thirds of states are doing a poor job,” Gehshan says. “Two-thirds are leaving children without the policies in place that they need in order to access care. Fully 17-million children, or one in five across the nation, do not get the care they need and those are the children we most worry about.”
To see the full report on Iowa and all states, visit the website of the Washington D-C-based non-profit group at: “www.pewcenteronthestates.org“.