South St. Paul Dental Clinic Closes, Medicaid Patients Left Hanging

Updated: 07/11/2012 11:09 PM KSTP.com By: Jay Kolls

Midwest Dental Clinic closed its doors two weeks ago and Medicaid patients are scrambling.  Dr. Mike Perpich treated many of those patients at the clinic. He tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the four HMOs that run Minnesota's Medicaid program are to blame for what he calls a crisis. Right now, Dr. Perpich says 500 Medicaid patients who used the clinic must now try and find a new clinic that accepts medical assistance. He says that will be extremely hard because many dental clinics are no longer accepting new medical assistance patients.

Dr. Perpich says part of the reason is the Medicaid program only reimburses dentists 30-cents on the dollar making it cost prohibitive to most clinics. Dr. Perpich takes aim at Medica, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota, U-Care and HealthPartners. He says the four HMOs that run the program, collectively, have 2.5-billion tax dollars in their reserve accounts. Dr. Perpich says if they spent some of that money and raised the reimbursement to just 50-cents on the dollar most clinics could handle it and thousands of people would not have to scramble to get dental care.

The Minnesota Council of Health Plans represents the four HMOs. They declined our request for an on-camera interview. Minnesota's Medicaid program, along with the four HMOs that run it, face three separate federal investigations right now.