Impact of State-Level Training Requirements for Medical Providers on Receipt of Preventive Oral Health Services for Young Children Enrolled in Medicaid

Published in: Journal of Public Health Dentistry (2021). doi: 10.1111/jphd.12442

Posted on RAND.org on February 11, 2021

by Evan Goldstein, Andrew W. Dick, Rachel Ross, Bradley D. Stein, Ashley M. Kranz

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Objectives

Young children enrolled in Medicaid make few dental visits and have high rates of tooth decay. To improve access to care, state Medicaid programs have enacted policies encouraging nondental providers to deliver preventive oral health services (POHS) in medical offices. Policies vary by state, with some states requiring medical providers to obtain training prior to delivering POHS. Our objective was to test whether these training requirements were associated with higher rates of POHS for Medicaid-enrolled children <6 years.

Methods

This study took advantage of a natural experiment in which policy enactment occurred across states at different times. We used Medicaid Analytic eXtract enrollment and claims data, public policy data, and Area Health Resource Files data. We examined an unweighted sample of 8,711,192 (45,107,240 weighted) Medicaid-enrolled children <6 years in 38 states from 2006 to 2014. Multivariable logistic regression models estimated the odds a child received POHS in a calendar year. Results are presented as adjusted probabilities.

Results

Five or more years after policy enactment, the probability of a child receiving POHS in medical offices was 10.7 percent in states with training requirements compared to 5.0 percent in states without training requirements (P = 0.01). Findings were similar when receipt of any POHS in medical or dental offices was examined 5 or more years post-policy-enactment (requirement = 42.5 percent, no requirement = 33.6 percent, P < 0.001).

Conclusions

Medicaid policies increased young children's receipt of POHS and at higher rates in states that required POHS training. These results suggest that oral health training for nondental practitioners is a key component of policy success.

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