Improving Access to Dental Care
Assembly District 19 has a new dental clinic that takes Medi-Cal patients! This week, I was honored to be part of the grand opening of another North East Medical Services (NEMS) location at 1033 Clement Street in San Francisco. I believe this site is a sign of greater things to come for the rest of the state, in terms of access to oral care, thanks to a recent move we've made in the state budget.
California's latest spending plan includes an additional $2.7 billion for Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program that offers health coverage to lower-income individuals and families. The funds, which come from a tax on Managed Care Organizations, will be used to increase provider reimbursement rates. This is big news because it will incentivize more doctors and dentists to accept Medi-Cal patients, which means greater access to care.
Those on Medi-Cal have had trouble using their dental benefits, which the Legislature reinstated in 2018. Fewer than half the people eligible for dental care under Medi-Cal used them because there aren't enough dentists who would see them. In 2021, for instance, only 36% of dentists statewide saw Medi-Cal patients.
The added NEMS location is an example of how state investments can help local communities fill a need. The organization is one of the largest community health centers in the United States, focusing on the medically underserved Asian and Medi-Cal populations.
With today's grand opening, I'm hopeful more providers will follow, giving California patients more places to get care and improve their health.