A senior at a Longview nursinghome said the cost of her dental plan was $300 a month, but the maximum was $600.
“I’m still getting $600 a month because my dentist doesn’t make much money,” said Sharon Johnson, 58, who lives at Longview.
It’s a waste of money.” “
It’s crazy how many dentists are making $300 an hour, and it’s just crazy how much dental care we have to pay for.
It’s a waste of money.”
The nursing home was forced to make the $600 payment to avoid paying the $3,500 limit.
Johnson, who said she was told the fee was a penalty for the lack of funding for a dental clinic, said she paid the fee in January but had not been reimbursed for it.
Johnson said her family received the $1,200 monthly subsidy from Medicare to help pay for her care and the $6,000 fee for a new dental procedure that was done in January.
“That’s what it costs,” she said.
“We pay for it ourselves.”
The federal government has said it is considering changes to Medicare rules that would help offset the cost to the public.
However, Johnson said she has no doubt the rules are working.
“The rules are still in place,” she told The Associated Press by phone.
“My husband’s a cop, so we can’t have the cop here in the community, but we don’t have to go to the clinic.
It is a good deal.”
Johnson, a retired mother of two, said the only reason she was able to pay her $300 monthly fee is because she was a part-time resident and had a limited income.
She also said her doctor is now a full-time nurse.
Johnson’s bill to pay the fee came to $3.5 million in October and her dental care was $3 million in December, according to data compiled by the state Department of Health.
But her total cost to taxpayers is still less than the $2.4 million it costs to provide care to her five adult children, who live in other nursing homes.
Longview spokeswoman Stephanie Rehmeyer said the state is working on getting her staff to work more full- time.
She said the department is considering requiring all new residents to pay an extra $150 per month to help offset some of the costs of caring for patients.
“This is something we’re looking at right now,” she added.
The Associated American Health Association estimates that the cost for dental care for Medicare patients is about $3 billion annually, but some experts believe it could be as high as $6 billion.
___ Associated Press writers Jillian Kay Melchior, John Wagner, and Emily Ziering contributed to this report.