Questions Exist Concerning Midlevel Providers

Some of the new models to treat underserved dental patients may not be all the effective.

The American Dental Association issued a series of reports analyzing this issue. The report looked at many aspects of this issue, including the impact of dental health aide therapists who provide care in Alaska and the dental therapists in Minnesota. The study specifically looked at the models in place in Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire and Washington.

“These studies represent a new way of examining whether alternative workforce models are an economically viable way to improve access to dental care for underserved populations,” said ADA President William R. Calnon said in a statement.

“The studies are a first step, and not the last word.┬áBut certainly, lawmakers and public health authorities should consider the factors examined in the studies carefully before rushing to create dental providers that may be unable to fulfill their intended purpose of reducing oral health disparities.”

There were a total of 45 different possible models studied and just five showed that there could be positive net revenue. The projected revenues were anywhere from $8,000 in Kansas to $38,000 in Connecticut. Four of the net-revenue scenarios involved dental health aide therapists and one utilized the dental therapist model. All other scenarios indicated there would be some type of loss.

These reports will not completely dictate what will happen but are the starting point for analyzing this issue.

This study differs from the 2010 Pew Center on the States' economic analysis of midlevel providers. That study indicated that it was possible to raise revenue of dental practices and, at the same time, increase the amount of Medicaid patients that received treatment

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