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

1 year 1 month 4 weeks 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
Embed Code Copied

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
COLUMBIA - An MU associate teaching professor is presenting a petition to the Columbia City Council Tuesday evening on behalf... More >>
5 hours ago January 17, 2017 Jan 17, 2017 Tuesday, January 17 2017 Tuesday, January 17, 2017 1:34:21 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Almost 50 years after the death of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Columbia groups still... More >>
9 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:08:00 PM CST in News
SUNRISE BEACH – Buying and selling personal property privately, such as furniture, clothes and cars, is commonplace in today’s world... More >>
9 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 9:18:00 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is cutting $146 million of spending from the budget, including tens of... More >>
14 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 4:13:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - After a budget resolution aimed at repealing Obamacare was reached Jan. 12, groups in Missouri plan to protest... More >>
16 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:50:00 PM CST in News
CALIFORNIA (AP) - Central Missouri Democrats nominated an attorney who formerly worked for the Missouri Senate to run in a... More >>
16 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:36:00 PM CST in News
HILLSBORO (AP) - The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a 28-year-old man died after a four-wheeler he was riding on... More >>
17 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:09:00 PM CST in News
NICKELVILLE (AP) - A southwest Missouri county highway is expected to be closed until Thursday as crews clean up an... More >>
17 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:02:00 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Police are investigating after a 34- year-old man was found dead outside a hospital in north... More >>
20 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:51:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Cafe Berlin reopened Monday for brunch, after being closed following a destructive break-in. The break-in on Saturday night... More >>
21 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:05:00 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis' fortunes may be looking up, thanks to a surprising surge in business startups. ... More >>
21 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 9:41:00 AM CST in News
COOPER COUNTY - Just before 5 a.m. Monday morning, the Cooper County Fire Protection District responded to a structure fire... More >>
22 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 8:29:00 AM CST in Top Stories
CAMDEN COUNTY - Deputies took a suspect who stabbed three people Sunday into custody without incident. The suspect is awaiting... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 10:20:00 PM CST in Top Stories
BOONE COUNTY - The northbound lanes of Highway 63 near Hinton Road were closed after the engine compartment of a... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 9:49:07 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft are hoping to expan d services to Missouri customers... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 7:50:00 PM CST in News
GRANBY (AP) — Anoth er Missouri school district is c onsidering whether to join 18 others that have adopted a... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 7:46:03 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA — Steven Hughes thought he found the perfect car for his family of five — until the title proving... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 4:59:00 PM CST in News
MARSHALL (AP) - Missouri authorities are searching for a suspected parole violator they say exchanged gunfire with a state trooper... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 4:27:00 PM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 39°
8am 37°
9am 37°
10am 38°
11am 38°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00a
Today
11:00a
Rachael Ray
12:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Noon
7:00a
Cheaters
7:30a
Cops Reloaded
8:00a
The Steve Wilkos Show

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Wall
8:00p
This Is Us
9:00p
Chicago Fire
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
No Tomorrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld