The Legislatures final budget reduced funding for dental Medicaid by 4 percent, a cut of $16.5 million for the two-year budget. Minimizing budget reductions on the dental Medicaid program was a major priority for the WSDA in this session. Language in the budget bill stated:
The department (DSHS) is directed to reduce dental expenditures by approximately four percent of total expenditures during the 2009-11 biennium. These reductions will prioritize rolling back some of the dental rate increases provided during the 2007 legislative session and measures to control utilization rather than terminating any dental services.
According to Dr. John Davis, DSHS dental Medicaid officer, discussion is underway to determine what services or rates to reduce to meet the Legislatures directive. Dentists will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed package of cuts, when it is finalized, Dr. Davis said.
The University of Washington School of Dentistry did not fare as well. Reductions in state support for the universities and colleges were a large part of the Legislatures strategy to reduce the $9 billion deficit. For the School of Dentistry the cut was 10 percent, Dean Martha Somerman explained in an e-mail to faculty and staff.