L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest public health plan in the nation and an advocate for accessible health care coverage, awarded the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC Community Health Programs $75,000 to provide dental care for patients in need.
The grant, an outreach effort of the health plan’s Community Benefit Programs, funded care for 100 adult patients who previously had been Denti-Cal enrollees but had their dental coverage removed due to steep cuts in adult dental benefits in 2009.
L.A. Care funds paid for procedures that otherwise would have been covered by Denti-Cal prior to the cuts, including dentures, root canal treatments, tooth restorations and more.
Roseann Mulligan, associate dean of Community Health Programs and hospital affairs at the Ostrow School, said the Denti-Cal cuts had immediate, serious effects for those who could not afford dental care otherwise.
“Losing Denti-Cal coverage was quite traumatic for the many people who relied on it to care for their oral health needs,” Mulligan said. “This grant from L.A. Care helped us to lessen the impact.”
Patients were treated in the Ostrow School’s Special Patients Clinic, which caters to physically or mentally disabled patients, older adults and adults dealing with other health problems.
“Almost all of the patients supported by this grant were disabled, and they were all very much in need,” said Meyerer Miller, project specialist in Community Health Programs. “Since their other medical needs often eat up so much of their resources, they can often have worse dental problems as a result. It’s nice to be able to offer someone who is having severe problems a way to get treatment.”
Sang Mi Kang, mother of patient Dong Kang, said the clinic was a great place for her son to get the specialized care he needs. Dong Kang was referred to USC because he needed sedation during his appointments, which the clinic is equipped to provide.
The grant’s help in paying for treatment makes a big difference, Sang Mi Kang said.
“I really appreciate it,” she said. “I’m very, very thankful.”
Patient Salvador Sandoval and his wife Eddy Bello-Sandoval said they also were very thankful for the grant’s assistance, especially as seniors on a fixed income. They praised Salvador’s student doctor, Saman Manesh.
“I have a wonderful dentist who’s very understanding and patient,” Sandoval said. “This is a great deal to me!”
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