HealthNet Dental Clinic begins accepting BadgerCare patients

HealthNet of Rock County announced on Wednesday that its dental clinic will start accepting patients using BadgerCare on July 5, 2015. HealthNet of Rock County’s Executive Director Ian Hedges announced the changes to the organization’s dental clinic volunteer providers and the staff on Tuesday night.

HealthNet of Rock County’s Executive Director Ian Hedges said it was apparent that the organization needed to make the change. “We receive probably 10 calls a day from patients who use BadgerCare who are trying to find dental care. The board of directors and staff felt this is a step in the right direction because ultimately we are responding to a need of great importance to the community.”

Rock County has more than 27,000 individuals who are enrolled in BadgerCare or medical assistance programs. A report on oral health released by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in 2010 stated that only 25 percent of patients who have BadgerCare were able to see a dentist.  The need for dental care is also reflected in the 2014 Rock County Health Needs Assessment, which identified under-utilization of dental health services as one of the most significant health risks to Rock County residents.

According to Hedges, fundraising and grants will still be needed to sustain its dental clinic. Hedges says, “Reimbursements from the state do not come anywhere close to covering the costs of operating a dental clinic.” Hedges cites a study by the American Dental Association (“A Ten-Year, State-by-State, Analysis of Medicaid Fee-for-Service Reimbursement Rates for Dental Care Services”) as to why many BadgerCare patients are not seen in Wisconsin. The study concluded that Wisconsin has one of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates for dental care in the nation.

For the first time since the dental clinic’s opening in 2007, HealthNet of Rock County will be opened five days a week. The organization has also hired a dentist, Dr. Zach Gregerson, to serve patients on BadgerCare for three days a week.  HealthNet will continue to see patients who are uninsured two days a week. Patients who are interested in enrolling in the service should call 608-314-1940.

HealthNet of Rock County is a volunteer-based clinic, offering free primary medical, dental, and vision services to Rock County residents who are uninsured, underinsured and low income. For more information on HealthNet of Rock County, visit the clinic’s website at www.healthnet-rock.org.