Please tell us how you, your family or your community has benefited from Medicaid coverage for dental care, vision care, and transportation assistance: My FQHC dental clinic has seen countless patients who have been able to access affordable dental care for the first time in their lives. People who have NEVER had a dental exam, are completing treatments and improving their oral health, and relatedly, their systemic health. Children of parents who were previously not covered prior to the ACA, are finally getting the dental care they need as well, because their parents understood the bare basics of the system – I am covered by the benefit and may be seen; I will take my child for services when I go as well (who we know was already covered, but wasn’t accessing care because of parent ignorance). Now, the parent benefit has been revoked, and soon it will be evident that the children of these parents will also suffer the consequences of the benefit change.

Please tell us how eliminating these benefits would affect you, your family, or your community: There are only two Medicaid accepting dental providers in Rockcastle County. My FQHC, and a flighty private office with unreliable hours. If the dental benefit is eliminated entirely, an overwhelming percent of the county’s population will not have dental coverage. This will decrease the frequency in which exams and cleaning are completed, increasing the incidence of decay and infection in patients. When dental decay and infection go untreated and a dental benefit is not in place to address the need, the local emergency rooms become the triage center for dental pain. Emergency departments are not equipped to address dental/oral health needs, so patients are most often given pain meds to address the pain, and get the patient out of the ER. In an accelerating opioid crisis, additional, unnecessary prescription drug practices are the last thing central and eastern Kentucky need. Removal of a dental benefit plays directly in to the institutionalization of the opioid epidemic.