MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 22, 2010

SoonerCare Crisis

Local dentist believes trouble is on the way

Dr. David Reifsteck said he has seen the beginning of the coming crisis with SoonerCare and has a pretty good idea how events will play out.

“What will happen is that less dentists will take SoonerCare because it’s not profitable,” Reifsteck said about the state program that provides health care for low-income families. “It gets to the point where by the time you pay everybody there’s no profit. And if there no profit, you just don’t do it. Those that have higher overheads in their office just won’t do SoonerCare anymore, and so there will be less and less availability.”

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board approved a $17 million cut in the state’s Medicaid program SoonerCare late last year and some effects have already been felt.

Metha Christopher has already had her share of ups and downs with SoonerCare.

“What I’ve been told is that they want us to go to welfare, because welfare knows we can get by on $400 or $500 a month,” she said. “But my brother is on disability. He said SoonerCare called him and told him they would help him with a dentist. He hasn’t seen one since 1978.”

Reifsteck, with Dental Care of Muskogee, said he has between 1,000 and 2,000 patients on SoonerCare.

“Whenever you have cutbacks, it’s going to affect it for everybody,” he said. “It wouldn’t be any difference if the price of gasoline goes up 20 percent, you’ve got to pay more for it, and that affects everybody. And when the reimbursement goes down, that affects everybody because it affects your overhead, salaries, any potential bonuses, increased salaries, increased overhead to buy equipment — it affects all of that.”

Reifsteck said that on a state average SoonerCare only pays 65 to 70 percent of what the normal and usual fee is.

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