Northwest Dental Group CEO Advocates For Managed Care Overhaul 

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Pointing to what it calls an a lackluster focus on managed dental care and an inappropriately high level of detntal crises spilling into emergency rooms, many of them at taxpayers expense, a Pacific Northwest dental group is spending its summer in front of Idaho lawmakers and policy-makers in an effort to dial up awareness of the critical issue.

“You’ve got to look at the population, not at the teeth,” said Dr. Mike Shirtcliff, President of Advantage Dental. "The issue:is: if you’ve got all these problems but you only go to the dentist when you have a crisis, we [dentists] don’t have time to talk about prevention.”

The Oregon-based Advantage Dental manages the network for PacificSource Northwest's dental coverage in Idaho and Oregon, which includes 400 Idaho dentists.

click to enlarge Dr. Mike Shirtcliff, CEO of Advantage Dental: “We can't afford the health care system we have; we never could afford it. And that’s what this is all about." - EMILY PETERS
  • Emily Peters
  • Dr. Mike Shirtcliff, CEO of Advantage Dental: “We can't afford the health care system we have; we never could afford it. And that’s what this is all about."
Shirtcliff told Boise Weekly that he acknowledges a greater focus on managed care, even dental care, doesn't come overnight.
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“The problem is people may not want to change their behavior immediately,” said Shirtcliff.

Shirtcliff also pointed to the increasing need for managed care services through Medicaid and programs through the Women, Infants and Children initiatives for oral health.

“We can't afford the health care system we have; we never could afford it. And that’s what this is all about,” said Shirtcliff.

Shirtcliff said he wants Advantage Dental to compete for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's huge Medicaid Basic Dental Plan contract, which is currently held by Blue Cross of Idaho in its "Idaho Smiles Contract" providing dental care to approximately 140,000 Gem State residents. The contract is reportedly up for renewal this fall.


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