Guests Share Ideas to Address Access Issues for Dental Patients with Special Needs

December 04, 2018

WHA’s Special Needs Dental Patients Work Group welcomed a variety of guests at its November meeting to share ideas about how each is working to address the dental needs of patients with special needs.

  • Leaders from the Wisconsin Dental Association (WDA), Marquette Dental School, Delta Dental Foundation, and the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin discussed common concerns that hinder access to dental care, including poor Medicaid reimbursement and a lack of training for dental providers. To partially address this problem, the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, supported with grant funding from the Delta Dental Foundation, is creating training programs that will help expand the pool of dental providers that can treat this population.  
  • The new State dental director, Russ Dunkel, DDS, provided an update on DHS’ efforts to implement the reimbursement increase authorized in the 2017-19 state budget for the St. Ann’s special needs dental clinic in Milwaukee.  Dunkel also touched upon the status of implementing a special needs dental code which, if approved, could be added to Medicaid dental claims for treatment provided to patients with special needs.   
  • Dr. John Bitner of Oconomowoc and Dr. Chris Okunseri of Marquette Dental School presented their preliminary plans for construction of a dental clinic in the Oconomowoc area that would provide treatment of dental patients who require care to be provided under general anesthesia. 

The Work Group will meet again in early 2019 to prepare its policy recommendations to address the severe lack of care for dental patients with special needs, especially those who require treatment under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. 

This story originally appeared in the December 04, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter