The Ash brothers of Lewisville are three of thousands of Texas children unable to get proper dental care for their braces. They are the victims of a multi-million dollar fraud scheme by orthodontic clinics across the state that provided sometimes unnecessary orthodontic treatment as well as cosmetic braces for low-income children. Braces are typically not covered under Medicaid but clinics like All Smiles Dental Centers in North Texas provided services to the Ash brothers and fitted each of them with braces. Now–following investigations by WFAA-TV (Channel 8) and subsequent inquiry by the state–the clinic is closing 13 locations. Leaving the Ash brothers, and countless other Texas children, in pain and unable to get proper braces care. Some dentists won’t treat the children for liability reasons. For its part, reports The Dallas Morning News, the state has ordered orthodontists receiving Medicaid patients to continue their patients orthodontic care even without reimbursement. Some 23 clinics statewide are being investigated, according to The News. “They have an obligation to provide treatment for those patients they have started treatment on,” Medicaid spokesman Jeff Wool told The News. “They have both a professional and moral obligation, and we’re fully expecting them to follow through.” And today at the Dental Stakeholders Meeting, on the agenda is this item: Discussion on Orthodontic continuation of care for abandoned patients. H/T Texas Tribune.
Shannon Ash told the Texas Tribune her children hadn’t gotten proper braces care in two months and are using wax to keep their braces wires from cutting into their cheeks. “I don’t have money to take care of the issue, or else I would have had it done myself,” Ash told the Texas Tribune. “If I had known this [would happen], I would have just let my kids’ teeth be crooked.” All Smiles says it will dismiss some 12,000 patients, and many of its patients with braces are simply opting to have them removed.
My teeth ache for these children! Not only did some of the dental providers provide unnecessary and sometimes aggressive dental procedures on children to get Medicaid payments, yet they are now leaving the children in terrible pain. Anyone who has had braces knows that without proper care, more damage can be done to your teeth, your jaws, potential infection and self esteem not to mention the pain associated with improper braces care. What a mess! And the victims of the crime, the children, are paying a painful price.