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KY Dental Care Lagging for Medicaid Recipients

Steve Reed/Courier Journal

  Almost overnight the Affordable Care Act created a pool of 400,000 Kentuckians eligible for Medicaid-supported dental services. However, the website Dental IQ has ranked the Commonwealth 47th in oral care.  That’s partially because incentives are low for dentists to take on these new patients.

The Kentucky Dental Association is a group that primarily supports dentists, but recently Executive Director Richard Whitehouse says he gets more calls from patients in Kentucky looking for dental care than anything else.

“ A lot of dentists that have had to go out in these communities and  had to hire 3 or 4 people just to work in their office to deal with the paperwork associated with this and again that’s another costs that could be a disincentive to get or stay involved in the system.” Whitehouse said.

Murray’s Angels Clinic Director Sherry Crittenden says she’s had patients drive more than 2 hours to get dental care because dentists either don’t offer services to Medicaid recipients or refuse to take on new patients. Whitehouse says there are a number of issues associated with the lack of care; provider distribution and the lack of incentive pay top the list. He and others are urging representatives in Frankfort to tackle the issue and champion both dentists and patients. 

Nicole Erwin is a Murray native and started working at WKMS during her time at Murray State University as a Psychology undergraduate student. Nicole left her job as a PTL dispatcher to join the newsroom after she was hired by former News Director Bryan Bartlett. Since, Nicole has completed a Masters in Sustainable Development from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia where she lived for 2 1/2 years.