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2012 Texas Medicaid Provider Procedures Manual

Children’s Services Handbook : 5. THSteps Medical : 5.1 THSteps Medical and Dental Administrative Information : 5.1.5 Referrals for Medicaid-Covered Services

When a provider performing a checkup determines that a referral for diagnosis or treatment is necessary for a condition found during the medical checkup, that information must be discussed with the parents/guardians. A referral must be made to a provider who is qualified to perform the necessary diagnosis or treatment services. If the performing provider is competent to treat the condition found, a referral elsewhere is not necessary, unless it is to the primary care provider to assure continuity of care.
Providers that need assistance finding a specialist who accepts clients with Medicaid coverage can call the THSteps toll-free helpline at 1‑877‑847‑8377, or they can find one using the Online Provider Lookup on the TMHP website at
Continuity of care is an important aspect of providing services and follow-up. Efforts should be made to determine that the appointment was kept and that the provider who received the referral has provided a diagnosis and recommendations for further care to the referring provider.
In addition to referrals for conditions discovered during a checkup or for specialized care, the following referrals may be used:
Case Management for Children and Pregnant Women. Case Management for Children and Pregnant Women provides health-related case management services to eligible children and pregnant women. Case Management for Children and Pregnant Women services include assessing the needs of eligible clients, formulating a service plan, making referrals, problem-solving, advocacy, and follow-up regarding family and client needs. For more information about eligibility and client referral, see Subsection 3.1.1, “Eligibility” or subsection 3.1.2, “Referral Process” in Behavioral Health, Rehabilitation, and Case Management Services Handbook (Vol. 2, Provider Handbooks).
Hearing Services referrals. If the hearing screening returns abnormal results, clients who are birth through 20 years of age must be referred to a Texas Medicaid provider who is an audiologist or physician who is experienced with the pediatric population and who offers auditory services.
Routine Dental Referrals. The provider must refer clients to establish a dental home beginning at 6 months of age or earlier if trauma or early childhood caries are identified. For established clients after the 6-month medical checkup visit, the provider must confirm if a dental home has been established and is ongoing; if not, additional referrals must be made at subsequent medical checkup visits until the parent or caregiver confirms that a dental home has been established for the client. Clients who are birth through 5 months of age are not eligible for routine dental checkups but should be referred to a dentist if any dental issues are identified during a THSteps medical checkup visit or acute care visit. When possible, clients should be referred to a provider who has completed the required benefit education and is certified by the DSHS Oral Health Program to perform First Dental Home services. The First Dental Home provider may be located through the advanced search function in the Online Provider Look Up or by calling 1-877-847-8377.
Referrals for Dental Treatment. If a THSteps medical provider identifies the medical necessity of dental services, the provider must refer the client to a THSteps dental provider. The THSteps medical provider can accomplish this by providing the parent/guardian a listing of THSteps dentists from the Online Provider Lookup. The parent/guardian can receive assistance in locating a THSteps dentist and assistance with scheduling of dental appointments by contacting the THSteps toll-free helpline at 1-877-847-8377. Clients who are birth through 5 months of age also can be seen for emergency dental services by the dentist at any time for trauma, early childhood caries, or other oral health problems. Clients who are birth through 20 years of age may self-refer for dental care.
Emergency Dental Referrals. If a medical checkup provider identifies an emergency need for dental services, such as bleeding, infection, or excessive pain, the client may be referred directly to a participating dental provider. Emergency dental services are covered at any time for all Medicaid clients who are birth through 20 years of age.
Assistance in coordinating dental referrals can be obtained from the THSteps toll-free helpline at 1‑877‑847‑8377 or the DSHS Regional THSteps Coordinator for the respective region (lists are provided in Appendix A: State and Federal Offices Communication Guide (Vol. 1, General Information). In cases of both emergency and nonemergency dental services, clients are able to make a choice when selecting a dental provider who is participating in the THSteps Dental Program.
Family Planning and Genetic Services Referrals. For clients eligible for Medicaid needing genetic services or family planning services, a referral should be made. Information about Medicaid-covered genetic services is available in Medical and Nursing Specialists, Physicians, and Physician Assistants Handbook (Vol. 2, Provider Handbooks) and information about family planning services is available in Section 2, “Medicaid Title XIX family planning services” in the Gynecological and Reproductive Health and Family Planning Services Handbook (Vol. 2, Provider Handbooks). If a THSteps medical provider also provides family planning, the provider may inform clients that these services are available.
Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Referrals. Federal and state law requires providers to refer children within two business days of identification of a suspected developmental delay or disability to the local ECI program for children who are birth through 35 months of age regardless if a referral was made to another qualified provider. The provider may call the local ECI Program or the DARS Inquiries Line at 1-800-628-5115 to make referrals. Children who are 3 years of age and older with a suspected developmental delay or disability should be referred to the local school district.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Referrals. Clients who are birth through 5 years of age or who are pregnant are eligible for WIC and should be referred to WIC for nutrition education and counseling, and food benefits.
Refer to:
Section 1, “General Information” in Medicaid Managed Care Handbook (Vol. 2, Provider Handbooks) for more information about referrals.

Texas Medicaid & Healthcare Partnership
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