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Lack of Dental Care and Pain Management for People with Special Needs

One week ago, I started to have some tooth pain, it did not start out to be a major problem, but I spent Sunday at the dentist's office, and he thought I might need a root canal, drilled a little so my teeth wouldn't bite too hard, but had a wait and see approach. I went to work the next day and the pain started to increase. At 4PM, it suddenly became unbearable, and I was on the phone frantically trying to find an endodontist. I was so relieved to find someone who could see me later that day, I never asked if he took my plan or what he charged. Just charge whatever you like! I was able to work the next day, but then the pain became worse. The next few days, I was on antibiotics, up during the night, pacing and tugging at my hair, pain killers not doing much. During this time, the endodontist almost every day rechecked and reassured me that the pain would go away, and it did- well worth the over two thousand dollars I spent.

Now, let's discuss people with special needs who are on Medicaid and have dental problems, are in terrible pain, and need treatment under general anesthesia, because they don't have the cognitive skills to cooperate with treatment while awake. They wait for months for an appointment because most doctors do not accept Medicaid as the Medicaid paperwork and the low reimbursement rates discourage private doctors from accepting Medicaid, even though many of those same doctors will participate on private insurance networks. Furthermore, because Medicaid has to be renewed annually, sometimes the Medicaid office does not process the paperwork in a timely fashion, these individuals go without insurance. In addition, it is optional for states to cover dental care for adults on Medicaid. These individuals who cannot access care have more aggression and self-injury to cope with their never ending pain, prompting more psychotropic medication use, in addition to putting their families and their direct care staff at risk.

For all the controversy surrounding my brother Matthew and others receiving a two second skin shock, no one is talking about the lack of health care and pain management for individuals with special needs with serious health conditions. I guarantee you, I would have gladly received multiple two second skin shocks (a treatment I tried myself) over what I have been through the past week! I can't imagine what it must be like to be in such severe pain, not knowing if will ever go away, with a never ending wait for treatment.