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State Awards Medicaid Dental Contracts

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Sammy Mack/Health News Florida
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida Medicaid officials announced plans Thursday to sign contracts with three managed-care companies to provide dental care. 

The Agency for Health Care Administration announced that it will sign statewide contracts with MCNA Dental, DentaQuest of Florida and Liberty Dental Plan of Florida.

The decision is not final and can be challenged by other companies that sought the contracts but were not ultimately chosen.

In all, eight companies responded to an invitation to negotiate for the contracts, including UnitedHealthcare.

Documents show that UnitedHealthcare’s response was scored third-highest by state evaluators, and the health plan was asked by Medicaid officials to negotiate for the contract.

However, the plan ultimately was not selected. Thursday’s announcement is the latest made by the state, which has put out to bid contracts in the overall Medicaid managed-care program, the Children’s Medical Services program for children with complex medical needs and the Medicaid dental program.

Initially, dental care was included as a covered benefit that plans in the Medicaid managed-care program were required to provide. A legislative tussle erupted in 2016, however, between Medicaid HMOs, the Florida Dental Association and MCNA Dental, among others, about whether to carve out dental care from the Medicaid managed-care program.

MCNA Dental, a Fort Lauderdale-based company that had lost its state dental contracts after the statewide mandatory program, hired former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lobby Gov Rick Scott on the issue. Scott in 2011 signed a bill that transformed Florida’s Medicaid program into a mandatory managed-care system, and HMOs hoped the governor would veto the dental change if it came his way. Instead, he signed it into law.

The invitation to negotiate allowed the state to award up to four dental contracts with prepaid dental health plans.

Those plans are required to have at least one dentist per 1,500 enrollees, at least one pediatric dentist per 3,000 enrollees and at least one endodontics specialist per 5,000 enrollees. AHCA distributed a timeline that shows the state would like to start transitioning Medicaid patients to new dental plans beginning in December.