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Rick Scott signs controversial dental carve-out bill

A contentious dental bill received a tepid OK from Gov. Rick Scott this week.

Scott said Wednesday he signed a bill (HB 819) that removes dental services from the list of minimum benefits under the state’s Medicaid managed care plans. It also calls on the Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability to study how effective managed care plans are at providing dental care.

Unless lawmakers act to put dental care back on the list of required services, the law carves out dental benefits from the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program.

In a signing letter sent to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the governor said he had been in contact with the bill’s sponsors — Sen. Joe Negron and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz — about the effect of the legislation.

“While I am giving my approval to this bill today, if the results of the study do not demonstrate better quality dental care at reduced costs than the net benefits provided under Statewide Medicaid Managed Care today, I expect the 2017 Legislature to amend the statute immediately to protect Medicaid recipients and the services they receive through Statewide Medicaid Managed Care,” Scott wrote in his signing letter.

Scott said that data from the Agency for Health Care Administration shows that plans within the statewide managed care systems are “at their highest ever performance levels in Florida, and the cost per member is at the lowest in the past decade.”

“The Florida Dental Association applauds Governor Scott’s decision to allow for a comprehensive analysis of Florida’s current Medicaid dental services program,” said Dr. Ralph C. Attanasi Jr., president of the Florida Dental Association, in a statement. “Good oral health and regular dental visits are critical to Floridians’ overall health and success. This study will provide the data to help ensure our state’s most vulnerable residents receive the dental care they need.”

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