The California Dental Hygienists' Association recognized state Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) as their Legislator of the Year for his efforts to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of California's dental health care program - Denti-Cal.
"Senator Cannella questioned Denti-Cal's dental hygiene policy and has remained engaged on the issue, especially for the benefit of California's youth, special needs patients who are homebound and for those in nursing homes," said Association President Julie Coan, RDH, MPH. "CDHA appreciates the Senator's efforts and are honored to acknowledge his enduring support."
In 2016, Cannella authored Senate Bill 1098, which was in a response to the Little Hoover Commission recommendations and the State Auditor findings entitled "Fixing Denti-Cal" saying the program could not attract enough dentists and was unable to provide most beneficiaries access to care. The report contains a number of recommendations, such as the Legislature setting a higher target goal, which is currently in the low 40 percent range.
"The impact of the low utilization rates of the state's Denti-Cal program continues to frustrate me," said Cannella. "Neglecting oral care can unnecessarily cause additional health issues, expensive dental visits, missed school days, and lost wages by parents."
"I represent counties where there aren't enough dentists and utilization rates are lower than the statewide average. My hope is that SB 1098 will improve the Denti-Cal program and therefore the health of Californians."
SB 1098 sets a 60 percent goal utilization rate and requires a report back to the Legislature by Oct. 1, 2017 when the Department of Health Care Services projects it will be met. The bill was signed last year and enacted January 1, 2017.
"I'm grateful to the California Dental Hygienists for helping make this bill a reality. It brings a smile to my face and the determination to underscore the importance of Californians oral health."