Florida Legislature passes bill to limit Medicaid dental coverage for children

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Children covered by Medicaid in Florida could lose dental coverage if a bill recently passed by the Legislature is signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott.

If the Legislature doesn’t reauthorize the dental coverage or put a new plan in place by July 1, 2017, coverage would end by 2019.

For parents like Mary Roberts, who has three children getting dental care through Medicaid coverage, the change could mean that regular cleanings might be a thing of the past.

Roberts drives with her children from Apopka to Sanford for dental checkups.

“It makes me feel great to know that they are getting the care they need,” she said.

Losing the coverage would create a serious financial hardship, she said.

“That would be devastating,” she said. “But I would do what I have to do.”

Dentist Dr. Ronald Marini was disgusted by Legislature's move to drop Medicaid dental coverage for children.

“We cannot treat our youth this way,” he said.

Marini, a Navy veteran, runs the Sanford Dental Office. He lives off his retirement and works at the office for free.

“If I take a pay cut (?), someone here would lose their job,” he said.

The bill passed by the Legislature requires the state to study the program, with July 1, 2017, set as a deadline to change the decision.