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Otter announces reversal, DentaQuest will let dentists back into state contract

Gov. Butch Otter today announced the reversal of a move to kick hundreds of Idaho dentists off the state’s Medicaid program, a move that left both the dentists and their low-income patients scrambling. Otter, who convened a stakeholders meeting today, was put on the spot over the move in a televised debate last week against his Democratic challenger, Keith Allred, and independent challenger Jana Kemp.

“I appreciate all the leaders accepting my invitation to work this out together,” Otter said in a news release this afternoon. “That continuing discussion has gone a long way toward clearing up the misunderstandings among dentists and patients about changes to the Idaho Smiles program that led to over-generalization at last week’s televised debate about the reasons that some providers were not extended new contracts.”

You can click below to read Otter’s full release; it says the “Idaho Smiles” Medicaid program is being reopened to all previously contracted dental care providers. During the debate, Otter said the 150 to 200 dentists were being kicked out of the program for “doing too much … actually over-providing for their patients.” Allred criticized the move, which gave the dentists just 30 days notice, as typical of Otter’s leadership style, saying, “He just consults a very narrow group. … The dentists were happy to adjust - you’ve just got to talk to them, Gov. Otter.”


C.L. “Butch” Otter
GOVERNOR
NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                
October 19, 2010                                                                                           

DENTAQUEST REOPENS IDAHO SMILES MEDICAID CONTRACT TO ALL PROVIDERS

            (BOISE) – Talks facilitated by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter between the Idaho State Dental Association, contractor DentaQuest and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare resulted today in the Idaho Smiles Medicaid program being reopened to all previously contracted dental care providers.

          Today’s announcement came after DentaQuest acknowledged the need to address confusion among dentists about budget-driven changes to the Idaho Smiles program that left hundreds of them without contracts to continue providing services to Medicaid patients.

“The main thing I want to communicate today is the shared commitment by everyone involved that no Idaho Medicaid recipients will be denied access to dental care. That is our top priority, and our promise to Idaho citizens,” Governor Otter said.

“I appreciate all the leaders accepting my invitation to work this out together. That continuing discussion has gone a long way toward clearing up the misunderstandings among dentists and patients about changes to the Idaho Smiles program that led to over-generalization at last week’s televised debate about the reasons that some providers were not extended new contracts.”

           While reopening the program to all providers who previously had contracts to provide Idaho Smiles Medical dental services, DentaQuest is working with Health and Welfare to ensure rigorous monitoring of compliance with contract provisions.        

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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