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Illinois Medicaid cuts beginning July 1 to affect dental treatments

Jun 27, 2012

Illinois Medicaid will no longer cover routine dental exams and procedures for adults at the Lake County Department/Community Health Center in Chicago as of July 1 due to cuts in the state’s Medicaid program.

Under the new guidelines dental procedures like fillings, dentures, root canals, crowns or cleanings for adults will require payment on a sliding scale.  However, tooth extractions for adult dental emergencies, such as acute infections and trauma, will continue to be covered by Medicaid as will dental services for children.

“Our staff will be moving Medicaid patients to a sliding fee scale for dental services which means that they will pay for services based on their income,” said Irene Pierce said, the Health Department’s executive director. “We will be setting up financial payment plans to help our patients continue to receive care.”

The Lake County Health Department’s six community health centers currently serve more than 14,000 dental patients. About 2,600 of these adult patients, who are Medicaid recipients, are directly affected by the change in dental-covered services. 

“We will be working with our patients in this difficult situation,” said Irene Pierce, the Health Department’s executive director. “We want patients to know that we want them to continue coming to us for services.

The Health Department has been providing dental services to patients for more than 30 years. Dental services include a full range of general dentistry for children and adults, including cleanings, X-rays, fillings, prosthodontics and periodontic services.

Earlier this year The Pew Center on the States looked at hospital data from 24 states and found that emergency room visits for dental problems increased 16 percent from 2006 to 2009.   Analysts attribute much of the increase to a rise in people on Medicaid and a shortage of dentists, particularly those that treat Medicaid patients.

Sources: Lake County News Sun, Gazebo News, Associated Press


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