The Louisiana Department of Health has awarded a three-year contract to DentaQuest as one of two dental managed care providers for Medicaid-enrolled adults and children statewide. It will provide more than 840,000 people with Medicaid and CHIP dental benefits covering a full range of care with a focus on prevention and access, the company said.
“DentaQuest is working with the state, partners, clients, and providers to make oral healthcare more affordable and easier to access,” said George Bucher, CEO for DentaQuest in Louisiana. “We are doing our part, amid the pandemic in particular, to ensure a strong and resilient oral health community in Louisiana.”
In alignment with the state’s goals, DentaQuest said it is specifically focused on ensuring more people see a dentist at least once a year with programs that establish dental homes for both children and adults, support patients who have previously missed dental appointments, and enable much needed care for those who have disproportionately lacked access.
Establishing dental homes and reducing missed appointments involve individualized case management support for members, the company said. For instance, people who live in Delta areas, which are culturally different from the rest of the state and differ from typical American rural communities, face unique challenges to get to the dentist, it said.
DentaQuest case managers are working to remove barriers that contribute to missed appointments, such as connecting members with transportation already covered by the individual’s medical benefit, the company said.
Also, DentaQuest increased the benefit for adult tooth extraction because even though dentists work to save a tooth when they can, many people who have long lacked dental care have passed the point of restoration, it said. To qualify for covered dentures, which ensures a person can eat nutritious foods and improves social interactions, adults must have fewer than six teeth.
The increased extraction benefit helps individuals in need qualify for the dentures benefit with less money out of pocket. Also, patients with severe oral care conditions requiring extraction would otherwise end up in the emergency department, where care is more costly and usually only addresses the pain.
DentaQuest also said it supports the health of Louisiana families and communities through its dedicated regional teams and employee volunteers at local events. In addition, DentaQuest said, it recently invested in a variety of community outreach efforts to improve daily life for many Louisianans.
“We’re proud to lend our support to organizations helping communities navigate this particularly challenging period,” Bucher said.
In 2020, DentaQuest donated:
- $25,000 to the Louisiana Dental Society Foundation for the purchase and distribution of PPE to Louisiana dentists and dental care teams
- $10,000 to GaitWay Equine Therapeutic Horsemanship, which helps individuals with intellectual or developmental delays, physical limitations from conditions including scoliosis and multiple sclerosis, and mental health strategies including ADHD and anxiety, maintain critical connections with support amid the pandemic quarantine
- $10,000 to the Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Dentistry Student Outreach Fund for community activities by faculty members, dental students, and dental hygiene students, as LSU students provide hundreds of oral healthcare and education for underserved communities in the greater New Orleans area each year
For this February’s celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month, DentaQuest also is providing $8,000 to Eat Move Grow to improve access and services for rural Louisiana children. This donation will support oral health education in elementary schools throughout 17 high-need rural, Delta parishes as well as health kits for 15,000 children that include a water bottle, toothbrush, toothpaste, and oral hygiene information.
“Good oral health extends beyond the mouth,” Bucher said. “As a partner in the state’s overall efforts, DentaQuest is invested in creating a healthier future for people all across Louisiana.”