Nebraska got a grade of “C” on a new national study of how states are ensuring proper dental health for children and their access to dental care. Shelly Gehshan, director of the children’s dental campaign for the Pew Center on the States, says the report is based on eight main criteria in four categories.
“The first is how well states are preventing dental problems in the first place,” Gehshan says. “The second set is how well they’re improving access to children on Medicaid. The third is whether or not they’re getting providers to take care of children and the fourth set is, are they tracking progress so they can even figure out how well they’re doing.”
Nebraska was in the middle of the national pack in the report and Gehshan says there’s plenty of room for improvement. “The report grades Nebraska a ‘C’ which means that they are off track in ensuring the policies are in place to ensure children get the dental care that they need,” Gehshan says. “They only succeeded on half of the eight benchmarks.”
She says Nebraska also needs to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates for dentists because they are below the cost of providing the care. She says Nebraska dentists lose money on every Medicaid patient they see.
Seven states got A’s on the study, while nine states got F’s — with New Jersey ranking last. “Two-thirds of states are doing a poor job,” Gehshan says. “Two-thirds are leaving children without the policies in place that they need in order to access care. Fully 17-million children, or one in five across the nation, do not get the care they need, and those are the children we most worry about.”
To see the full report on Nebraska and all states, visit the website of the Washington D-C-based non-profit group at: www.pewcenteronthestates.org