Healthy smiles for all New Jersey residents!
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Please help the thousands of uninsured New Jersey residents that rely on Federally Qualified Health Centers for essential dental services. They will lose care when planned changes are effectuated!
As of April 7, 2017, The New Jersey Department of Health has given Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers and 22 other Community Health Centers across the state one week notice before drastic changes to our LOA Agreement go into effect. The LOA provides for the reimbursement of dental visits for the uninsured with incomes less than 250% of poverty.
Many of the people affected are seniors with limited income and the working poor, who are gas station attendants, sales people, waiters, substitute teachers and daycare workers just to name a few. They are not jobless; they simply make too much to be eligible for Medicaid and not enough to pay for private dental insurance.
Under the plan set to take effect, SJFMC along with other NJ CHC’s would have to dramatically reduce the services we provide overall. This will result in diminishing a consistent and practical standard of care for the provision of dental services.
Amongst others, the following services will be arbitrarily cut:
1. Dental sealants for children
2. Root canals
3. Visits related to the replacement of teeth after extraction (dentures)
4. Emergency exams
5. Two annual exams to one (The standard of care for dentistry is two maintenance exams per year, not one.)
6. Visits will be restricted to no more than 5 per patient, regardless of the pathology or severity of the condition of the patient’s dental disease.
The NJDOH believes the changes are in line with the standard of practice for dentistry; they do not align with the needs of the patients we serve. As a public health entity, is it really in the best interest of our patients to extract teeth and leave many without a replacement? Is it the standard of dentistry to deny root canal treatment or to not save teeth whenever possible?
Collectively as Community Health Centers, we feel uncomfortable making extractions and leaving patients toothless. Not only does a toothless mouth impact one’s quality of life and self-esteem but it also can negatively impact job interviews and position mobility.
We provided 12,000 dental visits to 4,640 patients this year under the LOA and are the only community provider in our service area that accepts uninsured patients for dentistry regardless of their ability to pay. 2,310 visits were emergency exams. With the proposed limitations, these patients would be redirected to emergency rooms at exorbitant cost to the state. This is just one example, with 23 Community Health Centers across the state the numbers are staggering
We must act now to help an estimated 20,000 New Jersey residents, some with serious dental diseases due to their socioeconomic status and lack of insurance, which affect their quality of life. An unhealthy mouth, regardless of the cause, can affect your entire body and result in serious medical conditions.
Join us by signing this petition and calling on your Senators and Representatives to demand the NJ Department of Health reinstate funding for residents left without proper dental care. Please tell us what a healthy smile means to you, send us pictures and videos on Facebook and Twitter @SmileForMeNJ! #SmileforMeNJ.
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