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Enacting and maintaining an efficient and high-quality safety net program is one component of a well-run state. In the last two years, cuts to the Connecticut state budget have adversely affected the services offered to residents who rely on the state, including those using the Husky Medicaid program for oral health care. Data reveal that Medicaid enrollees have decreased their use of dental services. This research examines this drop in the utilization rate and the possible factors contributing to it. Qualitative research methods were employed: first, a review of existing policy reports and briefings by health care experts was undertaken. This was followed by in- depth interviews with six stakeholders, a dental practice phone survey to test dental practice capacity levels, and a comparative review of oral health care policies used in other states. Findings suggest that the stagnant reimbursement rate for treating Medicaid patients is the leading factor in declining dental utilization rates by CT Medicaid patients; however, other important factors appear to play a role in this decline. In particular, the administrative quality of the state program impacts access to dental health services for Medicaid enrollees. Policy makers should put on hold any plans to decrease the reimbursement rate while they complete a more in-depth study of the best approaches to providing state-run dental health care programs.


Community Partner: United Connecticut Action for Neighborhoods