State raises dental care rates for Medicaid

The Associated Press

SANTA FE — The state Human Services Department has raised rates for Medicaid dental providers by 10 percent in what the department secretary says is an effort aimed at encouraging more dentists to serve lower-income New Mexicans.

It’s the first increase in the rates since 1999, the department said.

“This is something that had to be done for the dentists who are providing excellent dental care to thousands of New Mexico children and adults,” Human Services Secretary Pamela Hyde said.

The increase is retroactive to last July 1.

The American Dental Association recommends children see a dentist for the first time no later than their first birthday. However, studies show only three out of five children have seen a dentist by the time they enter kindergarten.

Some 513 of the nearly 900 licensed dental care providers in New Mexico participate in the Medicaid Dental Program through the state’s managed care program. They provide care to about 209,000 children and 53,000 adults, HSD said.

New Mexico Medicaid provides a comprehensive dental benefit for most Medicaid recipients, including diagnostic, preventive, restorative, oral surgery and orthodontia for children, the agency said.