Dentists say lower income people in Wisconsin are not receiving the care they need due in part with inadequate funding from the state. Dr. Kent Vandehaar, President of the Wisconsin Dental Association, says in his private practice he gets shortchanged by the state when seeing BadgerCare patients. “Typically I get paid 33 percent of my normal fee and my overhead is 65 percent.”
Vandehaar says dentists are very caring professionals but must limit the number of patients on subsidized care in order to stay in business and unlike other fields of medicine, dentists aren’t hiking the rates for private sector patients to make up for that loss.
The WDA is advocating for proper reimbursement funding, an issue they’ve been working on for decades. “We are always told there is no money. I personally feel that it’s a matter of priorities…They (policymakers) just need to make this their top priority”
Like other medical groups, the WDA unsuccessfully pushed for more Medicaid funding during the federal health care reform debate.
A Wisconsin Dental Workforce Study from January showed a gap in percentage of low-income individuals who access dental care compared to those with higher incomes or private sector coverage.