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Minnesota dentists oppose governor’s proposed cuts to dental care for poor adults

Many Minnesota dentists have organized in opposition to Gov.

Many Minnesota dentists have organized in opposition to Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s budget-cutting plan to eliminate dental care for adults on medical assistance.

The group, calling itself the Dental Access Alliance, says the proposed cuts will “devastate the oral health of hundreds of thousands of people who rely on Minnesota health care programs.”

“Eliminating adult dental care and the CADPP [Critical Access Dental Payment Program] will force many people into hospital emergency rooms for treatment of their oral pain, rather than using the more effective use of dental offices,” said Lee Jess, president of the Minnesota Dental Association. “Emergency rooms are not set up to treat dental disease and most do not even have dentists or oral surgeons on duty. Statewide, there are more than 20,000 emergency room visits for dental care each year. That number will dramatically increase if we deny people the option to visit a dentist office where the care is less costly and more comprehensive.”

The group said it understands that cuts must be made in the state budget and said its members will try to “identify inefficiencies in the oral health care system to save the state money and to preserve the most essential services to those for whom the loss would be most devastating.”

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But they said essential oral health care for all Minnesotans must not be compromised during these hard times.

“Cutting the eligibility and the dental safety net for thousands of Minnesotans will only cause us to pay more money in the future,” Jess said.