SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Tuesday that starting July 1, oral surgeons will see an increase in their reimbursement rates under the government’s Vital healthcare plan.
“We are proud of announcing that we have started to do justice to our medical dentists; this way, we guarantee that a greater number of them remain in Puerto Rico and that Vital Plan beneficiaries receive the best dental care,” the governor said in a statement.
The new rate card for oral and maxillofacial surgeons follows an effort between the Health Insurance Administration (ASES by its Spanish acronym), the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Medical Sciences School of Dental Medicine and the Colegio de Cirujanos Dentistas (Dental Surgeons Society), and “will serve as a reference” for hiring these professionals with insurance companies that form part of the Vital Plan.
ASES Executive Director Ángela Ávila noted that “after the official Vital Plan dental services card was officially presented in April, we took on the task of identifying the funds needed to make this effort a reality,” and that “acknowledging the need to update payments for dental care services in the rate card, some $17 million have been budgeted for the adjustment.”
These funds guarantee the recommended rates through fiscal year 2020.
The government said this is the first time ASES has taken measures to establish a dental coverage rate for the about 1.2 million people under the public health plan.
“For the first time, since the government health plan was established, an increase in rates for dentists has been achieved,” Ávila said.
“Some 25 years ago, then Gov. Pedro Rosselló [González] established the Health Reform; today, for the first time, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló achieved increasing the rates for dentists,” Ávila said. “This way we do justice, protecting the profession and guaranteeing more patient access.”
Rosselló acknowledged that there are challenges due to the “unequal” federal fund allocation Puerto Rico receives to finance the health system.
“We have made a commitment to make way for all the necessary steps so that the resources are assigned to us and provide better payment conditions to physicians, and this way stopping the sustained exodus of health professionals, which undermines the stability of the system,” Rosselló said.