7/01/02 - Complex Medicaid Problem

Medicaid recipients are getting hit hard as a result of Missouri state budget cuts. This time it's their vision and dental coverage. July first is the day their coverage was supposed to get cut, but it's not that cut and dry. Last week many Medicaid recipients opened up their mailboxes and were shocked to find what was inside, a letter telling them as of July first, their vision and dental coverage would be drastically cut.  Now that July first is here, it's still up in the air what's going on.

Rhonda Sievers has been working at Dr. Lewis' dental office for over 30 years, so things have gotten pretty routine. But when Sievers and the rest of the office came back from vacation Monday morning, they had a lot of phone messages to answer from Medicaid patients wondering what to do. "We did cancel anyone over the age of 21 for today," Sievers says. And that was the only thing the office could do. Sievers says they could not get a definite answer from Medicaid on what's covered, and what's not. "We felt that there would be changes but we felt the system would be able to tell us if the adult is covered or not," Sievers says. And plans to cut certain dental coverage hits the office hard. Thirty to forty percent of it's patients are on Medicaid.

According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, Medicaid recipients who are 21 years of age or older, will no longer get general dental benefits. Work as a result of injury will be covered and so will dentures, but work to prepare your mouth for dentures will not be covered, neither will any denture repairs. Optical coverage will still cover eye exams, but it will not pay for eye glasses. The only exception is after cataract surgery, one pair of glasses will be covered. Medicaid is expected to release more information on the new policies, but Sievers says in the meantime, things may be at a standstill. "Until we can get a definite answer on whether there's coverage or not for the next three or four days we won't see adults."

Medicaid recipients can get more information by calling 1-800-392-2161.

Providers can call 1-800-392-0938.

You can also find information by going to www.dss.state.mo.us/dms