Lillian Hamilton, a Virginia Medicaid enrollee and 21-year-old tattoo shop manager from Hampton Roads, is still trying to get her wisdom teeth removed after years of living with a constantly swollen jaw, the pain from which has resulted in multiple visits to the emergency room.
Hamilton said every time she tries to schedule an appointment with a dentist who can give her a referral for an oral surgeon, she’s denied because providers either aren’t accepting new patients or don’t take Medicaid.
“I have probably called over a hundred dentists,” said Hamilton. “And every time I’ve called, multiple times, they’ve always been like, ‘No, we don’t accept this. No, we can’t take you.’”
A shortage of Virginia dentists who accept adults on Medicaid is the main factor why enrollees like Hamilton are struggling to find care, said Justin Gist, dental program manager for the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, the agency tasked with overseeing the state’s Medicaid program.