The HCFA HelpLine is often the first place that we see the trends that come from big gaps in our system of care. The loss of restorative dental care – such as fillings, root canals, and dentures – for the 700,000 adults on the MassHealth adult dental program is one such breach.
We see the fallout of these cuts demonstrated dramatically on the HelpLine. In 2009, before the cuts, the HelpLine fielded 95 calls regarding dental services between July 1 and October 1. This year, the number of dental-related calls has jumped significantly: between July 1, 2010 and October 1, 2010, the HelpLine received 236 dental-related calls.
In other words, we’ve received almost three times as many calls in the same timeframe. And this just represents the impact of the first three months of the dental cuts. As people go longer without access to dental care, and their problems become more complex over time, we can expect this number to increase even more.
The HelpLine has been working hard to link callers to care on a case-by-case basis. Although this is critical work, it is not a sustainable, long-term solution. In order to truly patch up this break in our health care system, we must reinstate MassHealth adult benefits as soon as possible.