KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

West Virginia Nears Dental Crisis Over Stagnant Medicaid Payments

West Virginia's Medicaid patients are nearing a crisis when it comes to access to dental care, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports. Medicaid's reimbursement rates for dentistry haven't increased since 1991, and West Virginia cut rates in 1994 by 30 percent, causing fewer and fewer dentists to accept payment from the public program for low-income patients. One dental practice that does accept Medicaid now treats 12,000 patients in the tiny town of Oceana. One patient travels as much as 80 miles for care. The dentists, husband and wife-team Michael Moore and Michelle Brown, say there are in "a financial bind," because Medicaid pays so little – less than half of what they normally charge – and they're increasingly flooded by demand as their colleagues stop treating Medicaid patients (Higgins, 10/18).

Related KHN story: Health Reform Proposals Enhance Children's Dental Care (Marcy, 10/13).

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