The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

CCHS moves ahead to provide dental services for Medicaid patients


January 2, 2020

DAYTON—Columbia County Health System CEO Shane McGuire said CCHS will be able to provide dental services to Medicaid patients by the end of the year 2020.

McGuire said dentists in private practice find it challenging to provide care to Medicaid beneficiaries because the low reimbursement rates don’t cover their costs.

Rural health clinics, like the Columbia Family Clinic and the Waitsburg Clinic, can provide dental care and receive reimbursement rates which are not based on costs, or on volume, or on fees for services.

Reimbursement will be based on an encounter rate similar to how clinical medical services are billed. This encounter rate is determined by dividing actual approved costs of operating the dental clinic by the number of visits each year, he said.

“This is not a profit-oriented service,” McGuire said. “Reimbursement is meant to cover costs of delivering care, and will require an annual cost report process similar to what we do in the clinics, now, as well as at Booker Rest Home, and the hospital, as a Critical Access Hospital.”

McGuire said it is interesting that the state reimburses rural health clinics at a higher rate for dental services than they do for private dental care.

The Washington State Hospital Association and state Rep. Skyler Rude were instrumental in obtaining funding for construction of the clinic, which is estimated at around $240,000.00.

Build documents have not yet been created, but Blue Room Architects of Spokane has provided some conceptual design possibilities, and they have provided price per square foot estimates for the 1300 sq. ft. rooms, or “operatories”, which will be added on to the Columbia Family Clinic at the Dayton campus.

“Within the scope of construction, it is not an extremely complex addition, and is smaller than many houses with similar construction materials being used,” McGuire said.

An additional $130,000 is needed for dental equipment, and McGuire said Henry Schein Dental has provided the most cost- effective solution, as well as help with engineering guidance for the dental equipment.

McGuire said former dentist Norm Passmore provided great detailed operational and equipment specification guidance, early on.

At their meeting in December, the Hospital Board of Commissioners listened to representatives from Community Link Consulting address the assumptions and revenue forecast for the clinic, and at the end of their meeting they gave the nod to moving ahead with plans for it.


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