Iowa dental college to turn away new Medicaid patients

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa’s dental college plans to turn away new patients covered by Iowa’s Medicaid program because of low payments and confusing rules, university officials said.

Leaders of the college have decided that, starting next week, it no longer will routinely accept patients covered by Iowa Medicaid’s Dental Wellness Plan, the Des Moines Register reported . The plan covers most of the 600,000 poor or disabled Iowa residents covered by Medicaid.

Associate dental college dean Michael Kanellis said in a letter to the Iowa Medicaid program dental program overseer that the Medicaid plan is paying less for services than it used to and has added confusing rules.

“The state of Iowa used to have the best adult dental Medicaid program in the country, with the highest levels of dentist participation,” Kanellis wrote. “We are concerned that the changes that have been made recently will effectively eliminate access to care for many patients enrolled in the Dental Wellness Plan, and will lead to a crisis situation for many patients in the state.”

University spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said that the dental college will continue to serve its existing patients and see Medicaid patients for emergency treatment of pain or swelling. The college will also accept new patients in its geriatric clinic and “special needs” clinic, which treats many people with disabilities.

Beck also said that the dental clinic at the University of Iowa Hospitals, which is separate from the college, will continue to accept new adult Medicaid patients.

Department of Human Services spokesman Matt Highland said his agency will address the dental college’s concerns. He said the department will also ensure that patients have an adequate network of dental clinics accepting their Medicaid insurance.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ spokeswoman, Brenna Smith, said the governor’s office is looking into the situation.