The state’s budget cuts in recent years have left 3 million Californians without dental care. Now that there is a budget surplus, this service must be restored.
The California Senate’s spending plan allocates $113 million for dental coverage for poor adults. This idea goes against Governor Brown’s budget, since he wants to focus on education, paying down debt and having a reserve fund.
We agree that now that there is money in the state’s coffers, it is not a matter of risking another state deficit by restoring all the billions in cuts implemented since the Great Recession. However, the cost of reinstating dental care will mean savings in the long term, since it will prevent bigger health issues.
The impact of dental and gum infections on health in general is well-known. These mouth problems have an effect on other diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, among others. But the complications can be avoided, which will in turn decrease treatment costs.
In recent years, thousands of Angelenos who are uninsured or underinsured have attended CareNow’s health fairs to receive free care. Dental care was one of the busiest areas, where patients waited long hours to be seen.
Dental coverage benefits through Medi-Cal were cut in 2009, when the crisis was at its worst. California is slowly emerging from this crisis at a prudent pace set by Jerry Brown. Today, when the numbers are improving, it is time to be selective when restoring services.
The Senate’s proposal to restore dental care is a wise investment that saves money and prevents suffering.