The Yakima Herald: Declining State Dental Benefits Create Issues of Access, Cost
- Source: The Yakima Herald
- January 9, 2013
Patsy Brown dreams of apples, when the roots in her swollen gums relent her to slumber.
She thinks of how the skin breaks effortlessly when she puts her teeth to the fruit; of the crunchy burst of sweet and sour; the serrated mark of her first bite.
“I used to eat an apple every day,” the 49-year-old Yakima resident said.
Brown, a Medicaid recipient diagnosed bipolar and schizophrenic and who is unable to work, began losing her teeth a few years ago. All but five are broken off at the roots; only three of them remain whole.
Their swelling causes sharp pain, makes it difficult to eat, and sometimes renders her unable to move.
She will rest patiently on a floor mattress in her duplex on North Fourth Avenue in Yakima, which she shares with three other adult relatives and in-laws, as well as her three grandchildren. Housemate Renita “Ronnie” Kemp, Brown’s son-in-law’s mother, sometimes cuts up Brown’s food for her so she can delicately chew and swallow her meals.
“I have to gum it,” Brown said.
The state ended its basic dental coverage for Medicaid-eligible adults in January 2011; residents 20 and younger are still covered. Because of this, Brown says she goes to the emergency room when she is in the worst pain, only to be occasionally given antibiotics and a prescription for Ambien to help her sleep.
“It’s a hopeless feeling,” Brown said.
Proponents for restoring the coverage say the lack of preventive care for the uninsured has driven up costs for those who have coverage, and forced those without coverage to have their dental health deteriorate into even more costly situations. They say the hidden costs to taxpayers are folded into insurance rates as the uninsured seek routine dental help at emergency rooms.
Read the full article at yakimaherald.com