Fewer dentists in Iowa accepting Medicaid

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Plummeting Medicaid reimbursement rates are contributing to the shortage of dental providers accepting new Medicaid patients in Iowa counties, according to ABC affiliate We Are Iowa.

Iowa dentists made $.40 on the dollar when treating Medicaid patients in 2016, according to data from the American Dental Association and cited by We Are Iowa. Combined with an average 60 percent overhead, many dentists lose money treating Medicaid patients.

Many providers aren't willing or able to serve people with low incomes, Corey Garner, DDS, told We Are Iowa. Dr. Garner owns and operates Des Moines, Iowa-based Southside Smiles and accepts Medicaid patients. She added that she treats patients who routinely travel two hours to her office for care.

About 47 percent of dentists treated a child on Medicaid in 2018, according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health and cited by We Are Iowa. It's even harder for adults on Medicaid to find dental providers because adults often require more expensive services.

The Iowa Department of Human Services has a tool showing Iowa dentists accepting Medicaid, but patients told We Are Iowa that many providers listed aren't accepting new patients.

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