Fla. company wins Medicaid dental plan

The state health agency is recommending the award of a potential $153 million-a-year contract to a Florida company to provide dental services to Louisiana’s 1.2 million Medicaid and LaCHIP enrollees.

The move is part of the Jindal administration’s embrace of privatizing the government health insurance program for the poor.

The state pays the equivalent of an insurance premium for dental coverage.

The proposed three-year contract with Managed Care of North America needs the approval of the governor’s Division of Administration and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The contract start date is July 1.

“They will have to provide an adequate network of dental providers and do member outreach to encourage preventive dental services,” said state Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert. Preventive care would make the need for restoration and other expensive dental work less likely, reducing costs.

“It’s a cost-neutral proposal,” Kliebert said.

Having a dental benefits program manager would improve access to care throughout the state, Kliebert said. The firm must have sufficient dentists of all varieties under contract to perform required services, she said.

Today, the services are provided through traditional Medicaid, which pays for the services provided. Medicaid enrollees see dentists who have signed up with the state to be providers.

DHH issued a request for proposals in January. Four companies responded. Managed Care won. Unsuccessful proposers were Dental Health and Wellness of Louisiana, based in Baton Rouge; DentaQuest, with headquarters in Boston; and Delta Dental of San Francisco.

Managed Care of North America is based in Fort Lauderdale. MCNA Dental Plans has operated as a multistate dental insurance administrator since 1992. It currently serves 3 million members.

The company has contracts with the Texas and Florida Medicaid programs.

According to its website, the firm is currently inviting primary and specialized oral health practitioners to join its network of providers.

The provision of dental services has not been included in Louisiana Medicaid’s private-sector-based managed care health plans.

Kliebert said there were discussions about including dental care in the health plans. But the decision was ultimately made to carve them out because a dental program benefits manager could focus on dental.