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A budget proposal for North Carolina would reduce the adult dental Medicaid budget for the next fiscal year by $15.9 million, and increase the cut to $20.1 million the next year. That represents about half the total budget for the program. Overall Medicaid cuts may be as high as $55 million.
The Shelby Star reports that with fewer dentists taking patients whose only dental insurance is Medicaid, further cuts in reimbursement are only likely to make Medicaid dental coverage effectively useless for actually getting dental care.
Dr Brenton Young, a Shelby dentist, told the Star that he believes adult dental patients who are unable to find a dentist will end up going to their local hospital's emergency room for care.
"The biggest bulk of our patients who come in under Medicaid come in because they're in pain or they have an infection," Young said. He said a dentist will often perform a tooth extraction or root canal to fix the problem.
The dilemma is not unique to North Carolina. California, facing a massive $24.3 billion budget deficit, is considering slashing all dental care coverage of adult patients who receive Medicaid starting July 1st as well.
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