Bad news for dentistry

Several trends and events that have taken place recently could have a negative effect on dental practice operations and dental care accessibility this year.  

Three events for dental leaders to know:

Medicaid disenrollments

About 20.3 million people have been disenrolled from Medicaid as of April 19, according to data from KFF. 

More than 94 million people were enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program in March 2023. KFF began tracking Medicaid enrollment after the continuous enrollment requirement enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic ended March 31, 2023. The tracker uses information from state websites and CMS. 

Approximately 44.4 million people had their coverage renewed as of April 19, and 29.4 million people were still waiting for renewals.

Walmart Health closure

Walmart announced April 30 that it would close all 51 of its Walmart Health centers across five states, signaling the end of its dental care offerings.

The company cited "the challenging reimbursement environment and escalating operating costs" which created a lack of profitability and created an unsustainable business model. 

Janet Hagerman, a dental industry consultant, said she was not surprised by the news because of the company's pricing model.

"What this leaves is a lot of folks in need of good, fairly priced dental care," Hagerman said on LinkedIn. "While discount dentistry is never a good idea, this does present an opportunity for dental professionals to help patients understand the value of dentistry so we can care for their needs."

Cybersecurity threats

The FBI issued a warning to the American Dental Association and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons regarding a credible cybersecurity threat.

The group behind the attacks is threatening to target oral surgery practices, but the FBI believes general dentistry and other specialty practices could be targets in the future. Attackers often use social engineering scams including phishing, smishing and vishing to gain access to protected health information. 

As of May 6, when the FBI contacted the dental organizations, there were no reported cyberattack victims.

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