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How Can Things Like This Happen in the Richest Nation in the World?

by Pamela Leavey

The WaPo had a story today about a 12-year old boy who died from lack of dental care. Reading the story, I ask “How Can Things Like This Happen in the Richest Nation in the World?” This is beyond heartbreaking:

Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.

A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

If his mother had been insured.

If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

If Medicaid dentists weren’t so hard to find.

If his mother hadn’t been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

By the time Deamonte’s own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George’s County boy died.

Deamonte’s death and the ultimate cost of his care, which could total more than $250,000, underscore an often-overlooked concern in the debate over universal health coverage: dental care.

Some poor children have no dental coverage at all. Others travel three hours to find a dentist willing to take Medicaid patients and accept the incumbent paperwork. And some, including Deamonte’s brother, get in for a tooth cleaning but have trouble securing an oral surgeon to fix deeper problems.

Under Medicaid in Maryland, and quite frankly elsewhere in the country, getting good dental care is a challenge. Something like your run of the mill root canal or extraction often needs to have prior authorization. Emergency is a foreign word to the system. What ever happened to doctors and dentists treating people because they need to be treated?

I think it should be mandatory for every “compassionate” conservative in Congress to go sit in the waiting area of their local country hospital for a few hours at least once every few months until they get it. People die in this country for lack of dentists and medical care, because “compassionate” conservatives are more concerned with tax cuts for their cronies than they are with the lives of children. And the same goes for the heartless wingnut who thinks the mom should be prosecuted. Somegirl on All Spin Zone points outthe comments this article generated. The absolute hatred and contempt for the poor that comes through is devastatingly disproportionate…” But, don’t read those comments if you don’t have healthcare, they’ll make you sick.

The lack of care and concern for others less fortunate that is so prevelent in this country makes me sick. It’s hard not to let it affect you unless you simply don’t have a heart.

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