Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rule Giving Dentists A Toothache

WDC recently found a surprise winner among political action committees that made contributions in 2005 - the Wisconsin Dental Association.

Wisconsin Dental PAC contributed $33,695 in 2005. That is the most they have ever contributed in a year, and their first time at the top of the PAC heap. They've rarely ever made the top 10.

A little digging found the dentists are spitting over a proposed rule that would let the state certify dental hygienists to clean the teeth of Medicaid patients without a dentist's supervision.

The Department of Health and Family Services offered up the rule because Medicaid patients have a tough time getting dental care in some areas. Dentists have long claimed they do not receive a high enough reimbursement rate from the program, so some people go without dental care.

Rather than give the dentists more money, the department decided to spread the wealth around and effectively expand dental service for the poor. The rule is still being considered by legislators.

The dentists are employing a common special interest strategy with their contributions: Play both sides. Most of the dentists' contributions have gone to the legislative campaign committees run by the Republican and Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate. The Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, the State Senate Democratic Committee and the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee each received $6,000 in contributions and the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee snagged $4,300 - all in the first seven months of 2005.

Curious to see who wins this one. The dentists, or poor people who can't afford to contribute and dental hygienists, whose PAC contributed nothing last year and only $300 in 2004.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping DHS idea wins - that hygienists can be certified to clean solo. The dentist never sees you when the hygienist cleans your teeth in their office anyway! And they have the nerve to charge hundreds of dollars. My son and I are on Badgercare/Medicaid and pay a premium of $75/mo to receive services that we can't access - such as basic dental in the Fox Valley and we can find no dentist that will accept us after MANY calls. We've been on a waiting list for months at Tri County Clinic. So we went through the Fox Valley Dental school for a cleaning with a student. It costs $15 - great. But it took 3 visits over 3 weeks, at THREE hours each and it was not only painful but slightly traumatic and I ended up with a twitch in my face for 2 days afterward. My teeth are clean but who knows when I will get a filling for the cavity activity as this is only hygiene. Sadly, I'm betting the Dentists win - the best thing I can say about not having access to dental care -- I now floss trying to prevent any further damage.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin is THEE ONLY STATE in the USA that does not even provide dental care for 100% of its own employees. Dane county government covers their employees in full. Maybe the state should eliminate dental coverages for employees from the mainly southern part of the state that now have it, and then see if the dentists squawk. I'd bet they'd come down to the capitol in "dental droves" protesting the loss of state employees. As I write this a few union contracts have been settled, adn I'll bet dental was taken off of the HMO's by now. Guess I will be going less regularly to my hygienist now, unless the poor get covered under this new bill. Hygienists in a lot of states can even pracice on their own without having a dentist on the premises. Not so in WI, a dentist must be near. Good thing my wife works for county government and I am still covered under her plan.....so there. Like anything else, prevention is the cure. Take care of those pearly whites, you only get one permanent set.

willowluna said...

This has not alot to do with hygenists but a whole lot to do with dentists-
I have a broken molar that landed me in the emergency room with severe infections, I was handed ten painpills and an antibiotic and told to see a dentist asap-
nice thought unless you have no insurance or up to "1400 dollars" cash up front.
I phoned every dentist and clinic within and hours drive of my home (dodge county) including those "free or reduced clinics" yeah, right! I couldnt get the time of day from a one- even though I had at least 300 cash up front- guess they'd rather see someone die of an infection before theylle give up their piece if the pie-

Im sick of the so called "dental community" and cannot say there is an ethical one with in 100 miles unless you have great insurance, know someone or have lots of cash to line their greedy pockets.

I filed a formal complaint with the state and am following up with the feds for what its worth against every one of these blood sucking bastards, today i go back to the emergency room

as far as im concerned- let them bitch about giving the underprivilaged general treatments, i hope they all go under.