The Adult Dental Medicaid Benefit covers people with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, blindness, and pregnant women and older adults with very low incomes.
The woman, who required hospitalization to remove her infected teeth due to her disabilities, was scheduled for surgery late in June, before the cuts to the Adult Dental Medicaid Benefit were to take effect on July 1, 2009. The day her surgery was scheduled, doctors recommended postponing the procedure until she recovered from a minor illness. By then, she no longer had Medicaid coverage for the surgery.
Dental Clinics North dentists planned to donate their services for surgery, but the Medicaid program determined it would not cover $5,000 needed for hospital costs.
"We developed a very effective and efficient system of care to provide needed oral health services to vulnerable people from northern Michigan," said Gerald Chase, Health Officer for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, which organized the first Dental Clinics North locations in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. "With cuts to the adult dental benefit, that system is disappearing. I think we owe the most vulnerable members of society more."
"This woman had a chronic dental infection that ultimately killed her. If the infection had been but a dental infection, Medicaid would have paid for treatment, including hospitalization," said Thomas Veryser, Executive Director of Dental Clinics North. "We predicted cuts to the Adult Dental Medicaid Benefit would cost lives and now it has."