A local dentist says his mobile practice has saved the state a lot of money by making house calls to kids in state custody. Now, a new insurance company is taking away the practice's TennCare contract, leaving the dentist calling for legislative help in getting back on the road.
"They never forget you," said Dr. Allen Bush of Goodlettsville. "When you fix a kid's smile, you know, a kid who's neglected with rotten teeth, they never forget who you are."
Bush said his practice's mobile unit is the result of a career-long dream. For seven years, Bush Family Mobile Dentistry traveled all over Tennessee, providing dental care for children in state custody.
"It's basically foster kids, neglected children, psychiatric patients and kids who are in sexual rehabilitation," Bush explained. "It's providing access to the children of Tennessee, access to care to kids that normally would not receive it."
In mid-December, Bush said he received a letter explaining his mobile practice would no longer be credentialed with TennCare as of Jan. 1.
"If you cut us out, you're going to be wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars in transportation fees to hopefully get the same level of care these kids were getting for free," said Bush.
Tenncare officials said decisions on what practices are in the network are now made by insurance company DentaQuest.
In a statement, DentaQuest spokesperson Kristi Gooden said, "We are working closely with various agencies to smoothly transition TennCare members who previously received care from Bush Family Mobile Dentistry to those who are participating in the new network. No child with TennCare benefits will lose access to dental care."
Statements from DentaQuest did not explain why the mobile unit will specifically be excluded from TennCare, but they did say their selections are based on their experience managing Medicaid dental networks in other states.
Senator Joey Hensley said he's taking a meeting with DentaQuest next week to discuss how much Bush's mobile practice could save the state.
"If these children have to go to a dentist individually, there will be travel miles, there will be expenses for the DCS side of the state which is paying for the services of these children," said Hensley.
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