Reductions in Adult Dental Medicaid Program Could Be Painful

Courtesy of the Jackson Citizen Patriot, 7/23/09

Nathaniel Oliver was in line at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, hoping to be one of the first patients of the day at the Center for Family Health’s dental office in Jackson, which opens at 7:30 a.m.

The 24-year-old Jackson resident came in to get a tooth extracted at the emergency walk-in service — usually the busiest day of the week for the community health center.

“This is the only place you can come to,” said Oliver, who recently lost Medicaid dental benefits. “A lot of people don’t have enough money to get their teeth cleaned.”

Thousands of Jackson County residents are feeling the pain of not having enough insurance coverage for their dental needs.

The state recently cut $2.9 million from the adult dental Medicaid program as part of its effort to trim $349 million from the state budget.

Dr. Jane Grover, dental director at the Center for Family Health, said the reduction in state funding reduces the center’s ability to offer the preventative, restorative and rehabilitative dental-care services.

Emergency dental extraction is still a covered benefit, she said.

“It’s just another shock to our system,” Grover said. “We are assigned to do third-world dentistry in this state. All we can do is pull teeth right now.”

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