KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Texas Investigates Dental Medicaid Fraud; Access, Cost Hurting Dental Care In Va.

In Texas, officials are investigating dentists for applying for reimbursement for procedures Medicaid doesn't cover. Also, cost and a dentist shortage in Virginia is negatively affecting dental care in that state.

The Wall Street Journal: Texas Drills Down On Medicaid Dental Fraud
Texas officials are clamping down on funding for orthodontic and dental services amid a widening investigation into allegations that doctors have routinely sought reimbursement for procedures that aren't covered by Medicaid, including putting braces on youngsters for purely cosmetic reasons and performing unnecessary root canals on small children (Koppel, 8/19).

The Associated Press/Richmond Times-Dispatch: Cost, Lack Of Dentists Bar Va. Residents From Dental Care
Many Virginians don't have access to dental care because of costs and a lack of dentists, according to a new study by two University of Virginia economists. Cost is the greatest barrier. Those least likely to visit a dentist are low-income residents without insurance or who have low-cost public health care. Virginia's Medicaid program generally limits dental care for low-income adults to emergency services, the study said. There also are racial and geographical disparities in access to care (8/18).

In the meantime, an Arizona mobile dental clinic that serves children is the target of scrutiny --

The Arizona Republic: Mobile Dental Clinics Drawing Scrutiny
The company operates under the kid-friendly name Big Smiles and promises access to valuable dental care for disadvantaged youths. It dispatches dentists to dozens of Arizona schools after getting the schools' permission. Once there, they take X-rays, perform root canals or fit crowns on low-income students (Alltucker, 8/18).

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