Saturday, March 03, 2007

Free Market Medicine
More Randian rewards:
WASHINGTON - The death of a Prince George's County boy this week from an infection that started with an abscessed tooth has spurred lawmakers to demand better dental care for poor children and has prompted a deluge of calls to local dentists for advice and appointments.

Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old homeless child, died Sunday in a District hospital after an infection from a molar spread to his brain.

Alyce Driver did not know Deamonte had an abscessed tooth when she took him to the hospital for a headache in January. The infection from the tooth spread to his brain, requiring two operations at Children's Hospital and weeks of rehabilitation in another hospital.

But her younger son, DaShawn, 10, had a swollen cheek and complained often about his teeth. She said it took weeks to find a dentist who would accept Medicaid. Only about 900 of Maryland's 5,500 dentists accept Medicaid. Low reimbursement rates, bureaucratic hurdles and the frustrations of working with indigent families are cited as reasons for low participation.

Fewer than one-third of children in Maryland's Medicaid program received any dental services in 2005, the latest year for which figures are available from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The figures were even lower in Virginia and the District.

What kind of land of the free and home of the brave lets people go without medical necessities?