Some Alaskans feeling pain of Medicaid dental cuts

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Budget vetoes by Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy eliminated Medicaid dental coverage for adults — a $27 million cut that is having an impact.

KTUU reports that Michael Shelden had plans to get dentures after having all his teeth pulled following years of dental pain.

The plan fell through after the governor’s veto, and Shelden said he can’t afford the $2,000 down payment to proceed with his plan.

“I cried,” he said. “I wake up and I cry at night.”

Now, he is only eating soft food such as soup and baked potatoes.

The Alaska Dental Society calls the budget cut disappointing, saying the coverage aims to treat problems before they reach costly proportions.

“By treating cavities and gum disease early Medicaid recipients are able to avoid more costly treatment or if the cavity reaches the stage of causing an infection possibly a trip to an ER,” the group said.

While announcing his budget vetoes in June, Dunleavy said his goal of restoring a full dividend payment to Alaskans from the Alaska Permanent Fund could help them pay for some affected services.

“This budget touches practically every Alaskan,” he said at the time. “It’s not necessarily going to be easy, we never said it would be, but we do believe that in some of these cases a full statutory PFD could mitigate some of the issues.”

Shelden said he was already counting on a full dividend to help pay for rent, food and other expenses.

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