State Hopes to Have Stronger Dental Support for Populous

ACA will give more access, but not all counties have Medicaid dentists

While nearly a half million within Colorado will receive some form of Medicaid by 2016, that does not necessarily mean they will be able to see a dentist.

Changes to the state policy that go into action during 2014 are indented to improve the general access of care to those within the low income brackets. Meanwhile, the state legislature voted to expand the medical benefits to cover adults and not just children.

The change will hit the market near the same time the Affordable Care Act goes into effect. And the two changes will help grow the general ranks of the Medicaid enrollees with dental benefits. However, that still does not cover the total need in the state of Colorado.

There are 17 counties in Colorado that do not have a dentist that will accept Medicaid, according to a new study. According to the report, some rural areas simply have no dentist at all, in fact. Others do not have dentists who will readily accept the Medicaid options.

Chaffee County is among those with the lowest percentage of dentists that will accept Medicaid. And while preventative care can mean keeping individuals out of the emergency room, and away from expensive surgery, some dentists simply cannot afford to take the Medicaid patients.

Another problem hitting Colorado is that individuals now having the availability of dentists does not mean all individuals will go to said specialists. For those who live more than an hour away from a dentist, the trip is almost as unlikely as heading to a non-mandatory school meetings. Still, experts hope that the availability will mean stronger turnout and a healthier populace. “We are on the verge of much better care for our under-served population,” says Russell. “But we’re not there yet, and the transition is going to be painful.”

“I think every person deserves the same kind of care, whether they can afford it or not,” says Morrow. The expansion of Medicaid benefits to adults will allow her to get some compensation for care she now provides for free, says Carol Morrow, the only Baca County dentist. Dr. Morrow does accept Medicaid.

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