Missouri dentists struggle to keep up with influx of Medicaid patients: 8 things to know

Dental clinics throughout Missouri are struggling to provide care with the new influx of Medicaid patients since the program was expanded in October, Kaiser Health News reported Nov. 16.

Eight things to know:

  1. About 275,000 residents are newly eligible since the program's expansion.
  2. Wait times at dental clinics range from a few weeks to several months.
  3. Missouri has one of the lowest Medicaid acceptance rates in the U.S., with only 27 percent of dentists accepting Medicaid.
  4. Many of the dentists who accept Medicaid provide care at safety-net clinics, which provide care to low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients.
  5. Vicki Wilbers, executive director of the Missouri Dental Association, said few dentists accept Medicaid because of low reimbursement rates.
  6. The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to clinics being short-staffed, but the recruitment of new dental staff is slower than the rate of patients coming in to receive care they delayed because of the pandemic.
  7. About 1.7 million Missouri residents live in a dental shortage area. The state would need about 365 more dentists to relieve these shortages.
  8. Kansas City, Mo., is one area not struggling with a backlog of patients because of the presence of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and additional safety-net clinics where patients can receive care.

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