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Health & Science

Dentists decry Medicaid's toothache

The Florida Dental Association has released a “white paper” on access and the impact of dentistry in Florida. The study says 70-percent of Floridians have no problems finding dentists to care for their needs. But Lynn Hatter reports for the people who can’t find dental care, the greatest gap is in the state’s Medicaid program, and the children who are covered by it.

Dentists have long said when it comes to Florida’s Medicaid program, their practice falls to the bottom of the priority list. They also say the state’s decision to transition Medicaid to a managed care system will only worsen issues like access to care. Thomas Ward is in the Department of Oral Medicine at Nova Southeastern University's  College of Dental Medicine.

“For the amount of money and the fees paid by Medicaid, are a disincentive for dentists to see these patients. In the case of managed care, the problem is even worse. It’s so underfunded and the need so great, that nothing is going to be done.”

Last month the state agency overseeing the managed care transition, announced it would delay adding dentist. Lawmakers approved the delay in the budget. But Governor Rick Scott expressed opposition to that. In his veto letter, Scott said if he could have removed the language, he would have.