Child Health Advocates File Lawsuit Against North Carolina Medicaid Dental Program
Because North Carolina fails to "adequately" reimburse dentists serving Medicaid patients, the system has created "a vast scarcity of basic dental care that affects 670,000 children," according to a class-action complaint filed against the state by a "group representing poor children" on Nov. 9 in Raleigh, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. The basis for the suit is a 1999 N.C. Institute of Health report that showed only 95,000 Medicaid children received preventive dental services, and 58,672 got treatment. The petitioners are asking the state to "support the [Medicaid dental] program adequately," with a level of funding between $8 million and $10 million, according to "one report." Sixteen percent of the state's dentists participate in the program, receiving reimbursement of about 62% of their "regular charges for procedures." The suit maintains that because the state's Medicaid program mandates that dental care for "poor people be as accessible as it is for the general public," the "lack of access" violates the state's "obligations." Cal Adams, the attorney who is leading the legal coalition of "health care advocates" that filed the suit, said, "[I]t seems to me the General Assembly could find $8 million so that poor children can get adequate dental care." The suit names state Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. David Bruton and state Medicaid Director Richard Perruzzi as defendants (AP/Winston-Salem Journal, 11/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.