Children on Medicaid in the Southwest are going without dental care because states lack the capacity to provide treatment. Rural areas, an aging population of dentists, and the refusal of many providers to accept Medicaid are all fueling a growing problem.
According to a report, issued by the Pew Charitable
Trusts, almost half of the children in New Mexico currently on Medicaid didn't see a dentist in 2011, while 45 percent of dentists in the state are over the age of 55 and close to retirement, and almost a quarter of the state's population lives in places designated by the federal government as "dentist shortage areas."
“There are millions of children, and millions of adults that are going without dental care because we have shortages of dentists in particular areas of the country and we have shortages of dentists that will accept Medicaid insurance for a variety of reasons,” said Jane Koppelman, a research director with Pew.
Koppelman says in states that have opted to expand Medicaid, like New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California, access to insurance won't matter if it doesn't translate to dental access.