Sunday, January 10, 2010

Medicare Reform: Dentists in Hiding

Port Townsend. Sharing with you a letter I wrote this evening to the Editor of the Port Townsend Leader. The letter needs no setup. It speaks for itself:

There was an alarming snap in my mouth tonight as I was eating dinner. For the second time in six months, a filling has fallen out of my senior choppers. You may think two options are available to me: Medicare or Insurance.

Medicare:
With all the bickering about changes to provide basic health care, one group - dentists - are hunkered down behind their x-ray curtains praying the current reform storm will blow over their protected turf.

In the mid 1960s, during Congressional review of the then-pending Medicare and Medicaid legislation, the American Dental Association (ADA) opposed dental care for the aged under the Medicare bill and lobbied for the exclusion of dentistry as a benefit under the proposed Medicaid legislation.


Today, Medicare does not cover routine dental care or most dental procedures, such as cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, or dentures. Even if Medicare pays to have teeth extracted as preparation for a certain medical procedure, like kidney surgery, you are responsible for the cost of your dentures!


Those Republicans know how to write a business plan! Why subsidize old folk who are liable to kick the bucket before they pay off their dental bills! Not a good business model!


Insurance:
The availability of private dental insurance coverage decreases with the age. Per capita expenditures for dental services decrease with increasing age, particularly for the 85+ age group. And if you are fortunate enough to qualify for dental insurance, coverage is pitiful. For example, one typical plan will save you $8.00 on a $65 six-month checkup. 10-15% is average saving. (It cost’s more to process the paperwork!)

As the older population becomes increasingly educated on issues such as the lack of dental coverage and its potential impact on their overall health, its time for us to become politically active. It's a recognized fact that a healthy mouth promotes overall good health, according to the ADA! Expansion of Medicare to include dentistry would offset burgeoning medical costs brought on by the lack of increasing medically necessary dental care.


Don't waste you time and energy "flaming" me with diatribes condemning public health coverage. You may find yourself in my position sooner or later.


What do I do in the meantime with this second gaping hole in my mouth? When Oil of Cloves won't numb the throbbing pain, guess I'll have to find my vice-grips, and pray the damn socket doesn't get infected …


Irritated? You better believe it. I am fed right up to here with the "Me First" instead of "We First" attitude the damn Republicans are shining on us. Tricky (I'm going to keep the dog...) Dick and Ronald (Bonzo Goes to College) Regan made good and sure their cronies got the greased palm, and we got the un-greased stick!

If you've forgotten your Medical History of the United States, then it is time for you to review Michael Moore's "Sicko!" As a matter of fact, I don't recall "Sicko!" being booked on any US outlet. I viewed it the other night on CBUT-TV out of Vancouver British Columbia!

I feel much better having gotten that off my chest! And so as to leave you with a smile on your face, I give you "The Dentist" with W.C. Fields ... what we call "comic relief!"

4 Comments - Click here:

Anonymous said...

You are right on with your comments. My 39 year career with an international corporation provided both dental and medical benefits for the remainder of my life, or so I thought. Three years into retirement my medical coverage has been reduced and dental eliminated. At this point I "bank" my premiums and continue to pay for dental checkups out of pocket. Last year my lady incurred substantial dental costs and now faces $8000 + of debt. Both of us are 66. What will it be like when we reach 85?

Gary W. Vollan said...

American Dental Association Being Held Accountable for Greed
Republican Senator Charles Grassley’s (R-IA) call for a financial discloser from the American Dental Association (ADA) along with other medical groups is just a start of holding corporate ADA accountable for the money it wastes and spends as a nonprofit suppressing and pushing out competition. The American Dental Association lobbies federal and state legislators to disregard legislation that would regulate the denturist profession in many states that include Kentucky and Wyoming. The ADA spends money to persecute denturists.

The ADA lobbied for exclusion of language to expand the dental health aide therapists programs to states other than Alaska in the recent U.S. Senate Bill 1790. The American Dental Association, wasted money fighting Alaska and lost; trying to prevent dental health aide therapists from providing dental services to Natives of Alaska living in remote areas. The American Dental Association lobbies to suppress dental hygienists from having independent boards and practices.

The American Dental Associations total lobbying expenditures as of October for 2009 was $2,110,000.00 reported by opensecrets.org. The ADA’s self-serving political agenda is hurting consumers by suppressing qualified competitors that provide oral health services to those with disparities. ADA works against its very own vision and mission statement by suppressing competition that has been trained and educated in providing oral health care services to those that are unable to pay the high prices charged by dentist leaving Americans without needed dental care.

Many people do without needed dental care because of high prices charged by dentists and not being eligible for Medicaid, low income programs and not having dental healthcare insurance. Corporate ADA has the power and money to change the current dental care delivery system for the better if the American public would speak out against the American Dental Associations deceiving and pacifying public relations campaign for a better public image.

Gary W. Vollan L.D.
State Coordinator, Wyoming State Denturist Association
P.O. Box 332, Basin, Wyoming 82410
307-568-2047
www.wysda.org

References:
137th APHA Annual Meeting (November 7-11, 2009): Denturists: Alternative healthcare providers for oral health screenings and referrals
http://apha.confex.com/apha/137am/webprogram/Session27637.html
http://grassley.senate.gov/news/Article.cfm?customel_dataPageID_1502=24413
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/health/policy/08grassley.html?scp=2&sq=grassley&st=cse
http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?year=2009&lname=American+Dental+Assn&id=

Oil-Electric said...

Thank you Gary, for lending support to my singular observation!

Oil-Electric said...

Anon: Sometimes I feel like the only thing I'm on life support for is to sign over my SS check to Mutual of Omaha (an insurance cronie) to cover the things Medicare left out (by no accident - to protect the cronies) and and to the Part D carrier, to pay for the drugs incurred under the above, for which they will not pay! Young folk reading this - educate yourself, each day gets you closer to the position Anon and I are in...

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