Guest Opinions

A grateful dental patient: Helping with healthy teeth saves people, saves state money

Idaho state Capitol in Boise.
Idaho state Capitol in Boise.

I am a grateful, 51-year-old part-time employed caregiver. I work hard to earn $10 an hour. I love serving my clients.

Managing a persistent disability, I am insured through the Medicaid for Workers with Disabilities program. Fortunately I receive excellent dental care as a recent new Medicaid patient at the Terry Reilly Dental Clinic in Boise.

So, what’s the issue? Enter Democratic Idaho Rep. Ilana Rubel from Boise. She is sponsoring a bill that would restore a little over $1 million toward dental care for some Idahoans insured under Medicaid.

Let’s do the math. Restore Medicaid dental coverage at a little over the cost of $1 million. Then avert taxpayers from paying $2.5 million in emergency room visits for people who cannot pay for dental care solely on what they earn. So pay taxes now for dental care or wait until Idaho’s suffering poor have to go to hospital ERs because their abscessed teeth are affecting their cardiovascular system.

Republican Rep. Megan Blanksma echoes GOP sentiment regarding the funding for dental care. In an interview with Boise State Public Radio’s Samantha Wright, Blanksma states that, “… we’re taking it from taxpayers and that’s a really big deal to me, hardworking people too, who love our country and we’re increasing our dependency on the federal government.”

With all due respect, Rep. Blanksma, our 32rd president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, did not create “entitlement programs” for the purpose of depleting the hardworking patriotic taxpayers’ wallets.

Rather Medicaid and programs like it do their best to ensure that those who, for whatever legitimate reason, cannot work and those who can such as disabled Medicaid workers, are generously provided with funding to assist in obtaining healthy teeth and bodies.

If this Idaho bill at all strikes a chord of hope for real people who are really suffering due to lack of access to proper dental care, please contact your own Idaho representatives and senators. Let them know that you trust they will become informed and that they will become advocates and mouthpieces for those who work and those who can’t.

All of this is a “big deal” to Rep. Banksma and the GOP. However, this dental care restoration bill will soon be in the hands of Idaho state legislators as it progresses. Let’s believe they will perhaps take a risk but decide to pass this crucial bill.

It’s a big deal.

Carolyn Maria Bevington, a Chicana-Anglo woman and former Americorps VISTA volunteer, has lived in the Treasure Valley since 1992. In addition to caregiving, she utilizes her bachelor’s degree in social work as a citizen advocate.