Denti-Cal, which provides dental care to low-income children and families, will see $140 million in Gov. Jerry Brown's new state budget.
But, a December 2014 State Auditor report mentions that dentists in multiple California counties could have more than 2,000 patients, "indicating there maybe an insufficient number of dental providers willing to accept new Medi‑Cal patients."
So we wondered how the program fares now.
We caught up with dental experts, who talked about the demand and lingering issues.
Dr. Rodney Bughao sees about 60 Denti-Cal patients a month throughout the Sacramento area, as well as in Roseville, Vacaville and Antioch.
He said the biggest issue is reimbursement rates. For example, Denti-Cal pays dentists for procedures such as a simple tooth extraction. But the rate is often less than what that procedure would cost in a private practice.
And that creates less of an incentive for taking a Denti-Cal patient.
"It's money, it's the bottom line," he said.
Britta Guerrero is CEO of the Sacramento Native American Health Center. She said even working 24/7 wouldn't be enough.
“We could do dental all day, every day and not make a dent in the need," Guerrero said.
Nonetheless, in addition to the funding in the new state budget, non-profit clinics such as SNAHC are partnering with Sacramento County to work with local school districts to offer Denti-Cal services to students.
"Parents don't always know when something is wrong," Debra Payne, a dental care program planner with the county, said.