Ana B. Ibarra
Sacramento-based California Healthline reporter Ana B. Ibarra has been following a battle being waged by independent practice dental hygienists who contend that actions by the state of California are forcing them to give up their most vulnerable patients, poor and frail people covered by Denti-Cal, the state’s Medicaid dental program.
In one story late last year, Ibarra captured the scene at a Rancho Cucamonga residential care facility where a visiting dental hygienist Gita Aminloo was caring for one of those patients, Devon Rising, who is blind and disabled. Continue reading
Reporter Richard Liebson recently recounted the story of an aging, 35-foot Winnebago that trundles through New York’s Hudson Valley to deliver dental care to intellectually disabled children and adults served by 15 agencies in the region.
Before the dental van started making its rounds, “we were in trouble,” said John Porcella, who heads one of those agencies. Finding care and scheduling dental appointments for the 140 disabled people in his program was a major ordeal, Porcella explained. Getting one single person to the dentist could tie up a staffer for an entire day. Continue reading
Photo: Heidi de Marco/KHNDental hygienist Gita Aminloo (left) and assistant Shirin Tavakolinia clean Devon Rising’s teeth. Rising, 42, who is mentally disabled and blind, can’t easily get to a dentist’s office, so Aminloo performs the dental cleaning at his residential home.
In stories for California Healthline, Ana B. Ibarra has been following a battle being waged by a cadre of independent practice dental hygienists who claim that state actions are forcing them to give up their most vulnerable patients.
At a residential care facility in Rancho Cucamonga last year, Ibarra described one of those hygienists at work.
Gita Aminloo was singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” the classic children’s song, to calm 42-year-old Devon Rising, who is blind and mentally disabled, so she could finish cleaning his teeth.
Photo: Phil GalewitzA recent AHCJ chapter meeting featured discussion of Medicaid and story ideas for reporters to pursue. Facing the camera, from left to right, are Rebecca Adams of CQ Roll Call, Joan Alker of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families; Cindy Mann, former head of Medicaid official; and Matt Salo, head of the National Association of Medicaid Directors.
The Washington, D.C., chapter of AHCJ held an event about Medicaid in late October with Matt Salo, who leads the National Association of Medicaid Directors; Cindy Mann, who until January was the top U.S. official in charge of Medicaid at HHS and now works at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; and Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.
Here are some of their insights and story ideas that can help reporters keep this story fresh. Continue reading
Trying to help her sister Veronika, who is disabled, with a dental emergency, Elizabeth Piatt found herself negotiating a labyrinth of personal feelings and Medicaid paperwork. The job of getting Veronika the care she needed was fraught with challenges. Piatt emerged from the experience with new insights into the Medicaid system that serves America’s poor, and a new sense of compassion for the patients who struggle within that system.
Piatt, an assistant professor and chair of the Sociology Department at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio, also came out of the experience convinced of the need for a better network of health navigators to help Medicaid patients find care and services.
Piatt shared the story of her journey in a piece entitled “Navigating Veronika: How Access, Knowledge and Attitudes Shaped My Sister’s Care” that was featured in February’s Health Affairs.
She shares further insights, as well as some tips on exploring a personal story for its wider lessons, in this AHCJ Q&A.
Elizabeth Piatt begins the narrative of her reluctant journey into the Medicaid dental care system this way:
“In the spring of 2010 a terribly infected tooth forced my sister, Veronika, to the emergency department (ED). This story began, however, several months before. It is flica story of Medicaid, access to the best care, information and misinformation, and the gap between the haves and the have-nots.”
Piatt’s piece, “Navigating Veronica: How Access, Knowledge and Attitudes Shaped My Sister’s Care” was featured in February’s Health Affairs. (AHCJ members have free access to Health Affairs.)
Piatt, an assistant professor and chair of the Sociology Department at Hiram College in Hiram Ohio, brings a social scientist’s eye and a story-teller’s flair to the tale. Continue reading