A report on Jasper County’s child dental services data was given by I-Smile representative Melissa Woodhouse at the November Jasper County Board of Health meeting Thursday. Woodhouse gave data for those children aged 0-21 using Medicaid or I-Smile services.
“The part that jumps out to me is this terrible line at the bottom that says there are no dentists accepting new Medicaid clients in Jasper County,” board member Andrew Cope said.
Woodhouse said in the past, dentists have accepted Medicaid patients but currently there is no provider available in the county. If children are in need, they have to go out of Jasper County to receive services covered by Medicaid.
“We beg, plead and ask but it is the Medicaid rates that have dentists not liking the way things are going,” Woodhouse said.
There is a list available, Woodhouse said, of providers in Polk County, along with one in Marion County, and one in Lucas County that are available for those seeking treatment.
Medicaid, a government entity, provides health coverage to Americans including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities according to its website. As of 2018, in Jasper County, 3,525 children are enrolled in Medicaid. From 2010 to 2018, the number of children has increased by about 500, with the highest enrollment coming in 2014 with 3,633.
I-Smile, a statewide program that connects Iowa families with dental, medical and community resources provided 75 dental screenings, 59 fluoride applications and six successful care coordination interactions from Oct. 1 to Nov. 5. Woodhouse said the program is just getting started in the elementary school throughout the county.
“We go into the schools and do fluoride treatments, sealants if we can for the kiddos and screens and then try to connect them with dentists,” Woodhouse said. “We also try to help with cost if they need transportation to Des Moines.”
Data collected by Child Dental Services found it is more cost-effective to receive care from a health care provider than to seek dental care for an emergency in a hospital emergency department. Accessing dental services from dental providers, especially preventive services, is optimal for oral health and overall physical health. It has been found that poor oral health has been linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease among other chronic diseases.
“It is actually a bigger problem, these numbers are just for children,” Cope said. “Even adults that have Medicaid, it can be even harder.”
Woodhouse said that although she can’t serve anyone older than 21 unless they are pregnant, she does give out information about services available and possible avenues to receive them.
“I will say there are very few that accept adult Medicaid. They will accept kids sometimes but they kind of draw the line at adults, and I’m not sure why this is because it still pays the same,” Woodhouse said.
Although Woodhouse said the state knows it is a problem, she doubts Medicaid will change anything. Currently, the rates are about 33 cents on the dollar.
“It’s not just a problem in this community, it is in every county that I serve,” Woodhouse said.
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or firstname.lastname@example.org