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Impoverished children in Wisconsin have little or no access to dental care, primarily because the state dental insurance program, BadgerCare Plus, doesn't reimburse dentists enough to make treating them feasible.
"It isn't fair to expect dentists to lose money on every patient," said Shelly Gehshan, project director of the Dental Health Initiative at the Pew Center on the States, in an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Several bills to increase funding for dental care have failed to be passed in recent years, according to the news source, but almost all sides of the debate agree paying dentists more must be part of any solution.
Bob Dwyer, the dental officer for the state Division of Health Care Access and Accountability, also thinks dentists need to be part of the solution.
"I feel fortunate to be a dentist, and I feel I should give something back," Dwyer said. "From my perspective, I think dentists need to do more."
The dental association has been criticized for its opposition to some proposals to improve access to dental care. Medicaid reimbursement for dental hygienists was opposed, for example.
Lori Barbeau, medical director of surgery at the Dental Center at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, told the Journal Sentinel a compromise is needed.
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