Medicaid cuts in Illinois will include dental care

Jun 18, 2012

Efforts to reduce costs within the state's program will prevent adult recipients from getting routine check-ups.

Advocates for the poor have condemned the package of cuts, which were signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn last week.  The changes include removing 25,000 working parents from the Medicaid rolls. Advocates say that will create more visits to the ER room. 

Another provision eliminates preventive dental care for adult recipients. William Werner is an M.D. He also heads the Illinois State Medical Society. Werner says it's been well documented that not having routine dental checkups can lead to other problems:

"Oral health is certainly related to other health issues. That is appropriate nutrition" Werner said.

Werner says the nutrition concern stems from people not being able to chew certain foods. He also notes that studies have suggested a lack of preventive dental care can contribute to problems such as heart disease. Others have raised concerns that fewer check-ups will result in more people needing procedures still covered by the state's Medicaid program. 

Still, some in the medical field, including Werner, say the cuts package brings Illinois in line with other states when it comes to Medicaid services.