ACA Provisions Create Need for More Dental, Health Care Jobs

Even though many provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are not set to go into effect until 2014, a number of changes will gradually start to be phased in during the new year that are expected to help generate jobs for those with health care experience on their resumes

For example, in Kansas, three managed care organizations have announced they will be ramping up their presence in the state to prepare for the implementation of the KanCare system of Medicaid services, as the ACA begins to increase federal payments to doctors. The Wichita Eagle reports that the move will mean the hiring of several hundred more health care specialists as the state aims to save approximately $1 billion over the the next 5 years in preventative dental and other medical costs for nearly 395,000 KanCare participants.

The program is designed to address both the need for employment among persons with disabilities in Kansas as well as employer needs to grow their businesses and the Kansas economy, Matt Stearns, a spokesman for UnitedHealth, told the news outlet. UnitedHealth said it plans to hire more than 320 people to administer the program on the state level to provide care at nursing homes, hospitals and community-based services that are designed to eventually help keep patients in their homes.

In Ohio, the federal health care overall will limit the ability of for-profit hospitals to expand. However, a move by the non-for-profit Licking Memorial Health Systems to buy the doctor-owned Medical Center of Newark will help retain and generate more jobs for clinicians including those looking for a career in nursing, radiologists and laboratory workers, as well as nonclinical health care roles in administration and food services.

However, the state is facing a shortage of dental health care workers to care for low-income patients. Some lawmakers want more doctors to provide basic dental education and apply sealants, which are covered under Medicaid, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, there is only 1 dentist for every 1,874 people. In Appalachia, the problem is even worse with only 1 dental health care professional for every 3,138 patients.

Dr. Patrick Lloyd, dean of Ohio State University’s College of Dentistry, told the media outlet that he considers dental care in southeastern Ohio a priority for the school, which is looking to recruit a higher percentage of students from the region.

Lloyd said he has been working with state officials to launch a new loan-forgiveness program for students who practice in the area. Lloyd said that he believes part of the problem in Ohio is the costs associated with dental school. Image of a dentist.On average a dentist graduates with a debt of $195,000.

Meanwhile, to combat the potential for a national shortage, many states are considering adding positions for mid-level providers – nurse practitioners, dental therapists (DTs) and advanced dental therapists (ADTs) for example – who are trained to provide some dental health care.

Although Minnesota is currently the only state to offer a licence for dental therapists, a handful of others are now looking at using the providers as one way to get more people the care they need, including California, Maine, Kansas and New Hampshire.

What we’re seeing on the ground is that not only is this an effective dental workforce provider, but it’s also well accepted by patients and by dentists when they have actual exposure to it, Sarah Wovcha, executive director of Children’s Dental Services in Minneapolis, told USA Today.

Dental therapists typically can complete a postsecondary training program within 2 and a half years, which includes 3,000 hours of education and training. 

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