Health

State restores Medi-Cal dental coverage for adults

Five of Miriam Martinez's molars have had to be extracted because of decay.
Five of Miriam Martinez's molars have had to be extracted because of decay. "If I'd had dental insurance, I'd still have my teeth," the 52-year-old said. Beginning May 1, patients like Martinez will once again get dental coverage under Medi-Cal.
Adrian Florido

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Beginning Thursday, adults on Medi-Cal will once again be able to visit the dentist.

Dental visits have been out of reach for many low-income adults since the California legislature, facing a budget shortfall, eliminated dental coverage for adults on Medi-Cal in 2009.

Since then, only children on Medi-Cal have had dental coverage.

But last year, the legislature voted to restore coverage for adults, effective Thursday.

Daisy Gonzalez of the St. John’s Well Child and Family Center in South L.A. said she has been calling patients to let them know.

"They’re excited about that because they haven’t received any dental treatment in years, because of no way to pay for it," Gonzalez said.

Under the new policy, Medi-Cal will cover most dental work for adults, with the exception of gum treatments and partial dentures.

Community health advocates are urging the legislature to restore coverage for those treatments, too.