For want of a dentist
The budget adjustments proposed by Gov. Perdue this year are a good place to start, especially if the legislature refuses to raise revenues. That doesn’t mean the cuts are painless.
One of the most difficult is the big hit to Medicaid dental services. Here’s the line item:
5. Coverage for Emergency Adult Dental Care This recommendation limits adult dental coverage to emergency care only. With this policy change, covered services will include emergency exams; diagnostic x-rays; urgent care extractions; biopsies; excision of tumors; repair of soft tissue wounds; treatment of fractures; and a portion of adjunctive services, such as general anesthesia and IV sedation, hospital calls, and therapeutic drug administration.
The importance of dental care is easy to overlook. But this kind of budget reduction always reminds me of twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver, the Virginia boy who died in 2007 because he lacked access to a dentist. Driver’s abscessed tooth led to an infection that spread to his brain.
To be fair, Gov. Perdue’s budget preserves emergency services. But dental care for the poor is tenuous in our state, and this reduction will not put us on a more promising path.