TARGET 8: Thousands statewide still have no access to dental care

1 year 6 months 1 week ago November 18, 2015 Nov 18, 2015 Wednesday, November 18 2015 Wednesday, November 18, 2015 8:21:00 PM CST in Target 8
By: Samantha Myers, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - Having clean teeth and a good smile are important parts of a person's appearance, but for some people it's almost impossible to see a dentist. Close to 250,000 Missourians on Medicaid have no access to dental care. 

For some, it's a life or death situation. 

Jenni Lanning said she has an infection in her gums and jaw that has gotten so bad that she is in and out of emergency rooms.

She said she's tried just about everything to get proper dental care.

“We have looked at all of the options, I have called all of the places, all of the people, I have filled out paperwork, different supposed dental health grants. I have Medicaid, I have Medicare,” Lanning said.  

She said she had not been getting regular checkups because she couldn't afford the care.

“One cavity can turn into the worst thing ever, and it doesn’t even have to hurt that bad. It didn’t at first, and then the next thing you know they’re telling me, 'This is going to your heart and when it gets there you will die,'” Lanning said. 

Lori Henderson, a dentist in Columbia said, “If you have to keep putting off and putting off the treatment, that’s when things start falling apart. Because decay is just bacteria in the tooth, and that infection continues to spread and the teeth become fragile and break.”

A Missouri Health Department report in 2014 said there are about 60,000 emergency department visits each year due to non-traumatic dental complaints among Missouri residents. The visits cost approximately $17.5 million per year based on national estimates. 

Right now, Missouri's Medicaid program only reimburses dental services for Medicaid recipients who are children, pregnant, blind, or living in nursing homes. 

A spokesperson for MO HealthNet, Missouri's Medicaid program, said, "Currently, the MO HealthNet program covers medically necessary, dental benefits for adults for treatment of trauma of the mouth, jaw, teeth or other contiguous sites as a result of injury; treatment of a disease/medical condition without which the health of the individual would be adversely affected."

If this statement is true, then wouldn't Lanning who is in and out of emergency rooms for mouth and jaw infection be able to get health care? 

KOMU 8 News reached out to MO HealthNet, which said it would not provide information on specific cases, but Lanning allowed KOMU 8 News to pass along her information for a direct response. 

“I’m looking at not being able to make it, and I should be able to with Medicaid and Medicare. You know, and it’s just, it’s ridiculous. It’s not fair at all. It’s not fair for me, it’s not fair for any of these other people that have to do it,” Lanning said. 

Even finding dental care for other Medicaid recipients is difficult. 

A search for Medicaid dental care on MO HealthNet in Boone County yields nine results, but only one dental office in Boone County said it offers services to Medicaid patients. Those dentists account for five of the nine results.

Cherry Hill Dental is on the list, but after calling the office, KOMU 8 News learned it doesn't offer Medicaid services anymore and has repeatedly asked to be taken off the list.

Henderson said her practice used to offer Medicaid services but had to stop. She said Missouri Medicaid reimburses at a rate that is far below what the overhead of running a private practice is.

“Right now Medicaid in Missouri is underfunded, which is reflected in the fact that only 11 percent of the dentists in Missouri are part of the Medicaid system,” Henderson said. 

Back in 2005, then-Governor Matt Blunt made a round of Medicaid budget cuts, and it's been a decade since low-income adults have had access to dental care.

Lawmakers are now making strides to bring back dental care, but press secretary for Gov. Nixon, Scott Holste, said there's a catch. 

The legislature funded Medicaid dental in the current fiscal year through a dedicated tax amnesty fund, and the amount of money that’s available through that fund is not going to be known until after the amnesty period ends November 30.

Holste said there may be no money available for Medicaid dental funding at all. That's because there are several other programs that the legislature said would be funded through the amnesty program, and the determination on funding all those different programs will be made later.

“The administration will make a decision on funding the programs in a manner that’s fiscally responsible, but we can’t do that until after the amount of money is known and available," Holste said. 

Lanning made a GoFundMe page in hopes that people will donate money to help her get oral surgery.

“Hopefully I can help myself, but if nothing else I can help other people and make this stop so nobody has to go through this anymore," Lanning said. 

 

More News

Grid
List
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police say a man who barricaded himself inside a home repeatedly fired at officers... More >>
6 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 6:54:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City, Missouri, police say they are searching for a man who shot two people,... More >>
7 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 6:46:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A new business pushes it’s clients to their limit and has them sweating bullets. Two former NFL... More >>
8 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 5:06:00 PM CDT in Sports
COLUMBIA - A resettlement agency supporting refugees had a surplus in donations, so it decided to sell some of its... More >>
9 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 4:47:00 PM CDT in News
As of 6:00 p.m. 23,491 Electric Cooperative member-consumers are without power As of 5:37 p.m. Saturday, Ameren reports that... More >>
9 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 4:21:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY - Traditional Native American food, crafts and dancing can be found at the tenth annual "For the People"... More >>
10 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 3:48:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA - Two teens were arrested early Saturday morning in relation to an armed robbery Friday night. Columbia Police... More >>
10 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 3:46:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
BOONE COUNTY - One person was extricated from a vehicle and taken to the hospital with serious injuries after a... More >>
10 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 2:53:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA— The start of the ninth annual Pedaler’s Jamboree was held on Saturday. Nine years ago when the event... More >>
11 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 2:24:00 PM CDT in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - The 29th Annual Salute to Veterans Air Show is scheduled for Saturday, May 27, and Sunday, May 28... More >>
11 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 2:10:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Three people were taken to hospitals by emergency personnel following a three-car wreck Saturday morning. A... More >>
12 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 1:08:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
COLUMBIA – Public pools in Columbia opens for Memorial Day weekend, but they are still looking for more people to... More >>
14 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 11:29:00 AM CDT in News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Two months after the idea was first introduced to leaders in Springfield, Missouri, the city's new... More >>
14 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 11:13:00 AM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police say a man who exchanged gunfire with officers during an hours-long standoff has... More >>
14 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 11:09:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Lawmakers have passed a proposal in a special session that supporters hope will bring hundreds... More >>
20 hours ago May 27, 2017 May 27, 2017 Saturday, May 27 2017 Saturday, May 27, 2017 5:13:00 AM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY – A father was sentenced in federal court Friday for threatening the attorney who represented one of his... More >>
1 day ago May 26, 2017 May 26, 2017 Friday, May 26 2017 Friday, May 26, 2017 8:04:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
OSAGE BEACH – People going to Lake of the Ozarks this Memorial Day Weekend may encounter severe weather, dampening the... More >>
1 day ago May 26, 2017 May 26, 2017 Friday, May 26 2017 Friday, May 26, 2017 7:56:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
JEFFERSON CITY - A motor vehicle collision left a man seriously injured Friday morning. Elmer Redcay, 62, was northbound... More >>
1 day ago May 26, 2017 May 26, 2017 Friday, May 26 2017 Friday, May 26, 2017 7:53:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 61°
2am 62°
3am 64°
4am 64°
5am 63°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

1:30a
The Insider
2:00a
Paid Program
2:30a
Paid Program
1:00a
Elementary
3:00a
Paid Program
3:30a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
American Ninja Warrior
8:00p
American Ninja Warrior
6:00p
A Thousand Words
8:00p
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld